The trucker convoys that protested COVID-19 restrictions have turned into a way of life for some participants.
One convoy took over the Canadian capital of Ottawa for weeks and inspired a similar demonstration that drove around Washington, D.C.
Now some participants from both movements have left their homes and remained on the road, looking for something else to protest, reported Vice.
“It’s always been about community, i's always been about interpersonal relations," said Amarnath Amarasingam, an extremism and radicalization expert at Queens University. "Once that mobilization happens, once that worldview is increasingly solidified, [the community] is easily mobilized again for another set of issues that might come down the road. This is why, even as the convoy left, there is still the long-term question."
Many of the truckers joined the protests for the "action," but a number of them bonded together -- and some even married each other -- over a shared mistrust of the government and a belief in conspiracy theories.
“The convoy protest for some may have never been about the COVID mandates, but for the organizers it's a continuation of their history as anti-government extremists,” said Marc-Andre Argentino, an extremism researcher at Concordia University and fellow at the Global Network on Extremism and Technology. "Many have used similar tactics over the years to lesser success."
The fringe movement has spawned its own celebrities, such as live streamer "Trucker G," and they even have something like groupies.
“It’s just so amazing to be around people who believe what you believe,” said one Idaho woman, who offered free haircuts as the truckers passed through her area. “When I went to beauty school years ago, they taught me not to talk about politics and religion. I’ve been following this stuff ever since before Trump won, because I knew something was up. I just knew it, and I can’t talk to my clients about it.”
Some of the Ottawa truckers returned to Canada's capital last weekend for a reunion, but they've rebranded as "Rolling Thunder" and traded their trucks for motorcycles.“The bonds formed during these kinds of heightened moments of adrenaline last a long time, and they're quite intense. The protest movements become massively important for interpersonal bonds,” Amarasingam said. “I remember during the Tamil protests people would meet and get married, you know, actual relationships formed. People referred to each other as ‘my protest mom’ and ‘my protest dad.’”