The burgeoning StopTheTires2020 protest has been canceled by the group’s founder after he claims it’s viral overnight explosion lost sight of the page’s original intentions.
In the ten days since the page’s creation, StopTheTires2020 has grown to nearly 74,000 members, but founder Jeremy Rewoldt says he never intended the movement to be disruptive or divisive.
“It [starting the Facebook page] was emotionally motivated.” Rewoldt said in an interview with Truckers Independent Broadcasting Network on Sunday, November 16th.
“I mean I live in a blue state….” he continued.
“I’m sitting there watching election results come in like anybody else… A bunch of my buddies were talking that week afterwards and I’m like ‘you know, a lot of drivers like us are pissed off in our area, so why don’t we create a Facebook page and shoot the shit?’ That’s literally what it was about. So we could talk and have our thoughts amongst each other and connect with other drivers. So I created the page Friday night, went to bed and woke up the next morning and there was 10,000 people in it. The page was public so anybody could join. There was no control over it at the time and Facebook sets it up so that you have to wait 3 days for it to turn private. So within three days of everyone sharing and everyone seeing the page, I couldn’t control who was joining the page and who was coming and going,” he explained. “It just gained a lot of traction. There was no way of me controlling anything when it was open to the public.”
Rewoldt lives in Washington state and has been a truck driver for 15 years. However, in an interview with The Post Trip Podcast, he did disclose that he has never worked as an OTR truck driver and has no experience as an owner operator or with the small business side of the trucking industry.
Rewoldt says that once the idea of a widespread trucking protest took hold of the online trucking community, they ran with it, introducing the idea of a “soft stop” on veterans day, and even suggesting participants block roadways, which he said was not his intention when starting the group. Rewoldt claims that he would never want drivers to stop hauling medicine or any other crucial essentials, and values human decency over any sort of protest.
“The narrative got really lost,” he said. “I had some veterans join the page and they pushed out the 11th date and really took away from the veterans and that was not my intention. It became very divided at that point.”
“My first statement ever on the page was just the idea of what happens if all the tires stop. That was it. What if?” Rewoldt explained.
“In my statement I said that I don’t want medicine to stop. Because we know the pandemic or however your feelings are about it… that’s everyone’s opinion they can feel however they want… And it’s imperative to the American people that that stuff doesn’t stop. Ya know, medicines, everything else like that,” he said.
“I mean you just can’t do that. If you have any sense of humanity and a sense of stopping medical equipment to hospitals and stuff like that, that I felt was more of an act of treason than anything else to deprive American people of medicines. I mean that’s not right, that’s not something you should do. I don’t want any medical haulers or anything to be stopping.”
Rewoldt admits that he was not ready for what StopTheTires2020 became, and says that he is not a leader, but that this experience has taught him a lot about what others in the trucking industry are experiencing on a daily basis.
“I’ve become so educated in the last week on how many different issues are out there, but I had to stay true to what I founded my group on….” he said.
“I just thought my buddies and I would shoot the shit and move on…” Rewoldt continued.
”But now it’s become bigger than that. And I’m okay with it becoming bigger than that, but I needed to try to corral everything too. And it’s been tough. I’ll be honest with you. There’s 74k people in there and I guarantee you, I’m going to admit, that probably 50% of them don’t even know what the hell they’re in here for.”
According to a poll posted by the StopThetires2020 page over the weekend, just over 300 truck drivers were actually planning to park their trucks on November 26th-29th, while more than 1,000 members voted that they are not truck drivers, but would stand in support of truck drivers striking on those days.
When asked what’s next for the growing group, Rewoldt says that he doesn’t know yet, but does want to stress that “now is not the time.”
“It’s opened my eyes to a lot more concerns that drivers as a whole actually have but I needed to stay true to my actual original stance. Yes this platform can hopefully bring out some of the other issues but I needed to save face on what my actual statement was. It was based on presumed reality at this time.”
“The main stance was based off of the stopping of fracking and the new green deal. And a fair election…. We don’t know if it’s a true or accurate count yet so let’s stand down until we know what the actual outcome [of the presidency] is.”
“The soap box I wanted to stand on is way too late or way too early. Right now is not the time…. Pre election maybe we could have made some big waves and swayed a lot of people. After the election has certified results, maybe we could make some waves and sway a lot of people. But right now in the limbo state that we’re in right now is not the time. I would ask everyone who has followed me to listen: Now is not the time to stop our tires.”
Although Rewoldt does not support a trucker strike at this time, he and host James Rogers of The Post Trip podcast did hint at an alternate way of getting the attention of the American government and the American people at large – a city-specific boycott.
“I could get behind boycotting the cities that have burned to the ground pretty much. I mean it makes more sense to do it like that. You boycott the cities that have had the greatest effect – the most lawlessness going on for the last almost a year.. And you can just go with that but I completely agree that now is not the time,” Rogers said during his interview with Rewoldt.
“Absolutely I mean the bigger cities decided the outcome. I mean you can look at the whole map and break it down by county and see where the blue spots are,” Rewoldt added.
Based on the results of a poll conducted by CDLLife over the summer, many truck drivers may be willing to get behind this targeted strategy. Out of nearly 1,300 respondents, 79% of drivers polled said that they plan on refusing loads to cities with disbanded or defunded police departments – the same cities that tend to vote blue.
As for the chaos brought about by the page’s sudden popularity and the subsequent onslaught of media coverage, Rewoldt says that some good has come out of it, including his own education and a reigniting of the brotherhood of trucking.
“The brotherhood is back. We’re actually talking again,” he said.
“If we can all work together then we can all have our voices heard.”