This is a developing story. Check back later for updates as they come in.
A group of about 30 tractor-trailers and pickups hit the busy Capital Beltway in Washington on Friday morning to protest excessive government intrusion and Congress' failure to reach a budget deal.
The big rigs drove along the Beltway's right lane, at about 40-45 mph, well under the posted speed limit of 55 mph, because of wet road conditions, according to The Washington Post. No major traffic problems were reported.
While the first day of the weekend protest appeared to draw a smaller group than initially expected, U.S. News & World Report noted that a social media thread appeared to be active. Organizers of the protest have created a chat room, which requires a log in.
“Denea4Liberty: Please post a donation site for fuel. Someone?,” read one post.
“HeatherLacey86: there is major traffic because there are accidents everywhere," another claimed.
The group said it plans to run a peaceful protest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and protesters don't intend to create traffic jams on the heavily traveled Beltway.
In addition to the chat room, the protesters appeared to have set up a radio live stream, hash tag #T2SDA. “I guess we’re about to see our dreams come true,” an unidentified host announced on Friday about 10:11 a.m. EST. “We’re about to kick ass with the world’s largest peaceful traffic jam.”
When four big rigs began driving side-by-side across all four lanes, state highway troopers stopped and warned the protesters “not to impede traffic.”
Virginia State Police spokesman Corinne N. Geller said that the drivers slowed traffic down to 15 mph, but weren't issued any tickets and were allowed to “proceed on their way.”
The protesters draped American flags on their rigs and carried signs that read #T2SDA -- the acronym and hashtag for “Truckers to Shut Down America” -- which has been the “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” slogan.
Both Maryland and Pennsylvania officials said they didn't see any protesters traveling along their highways, but Virginia state police said they spotted a group on I-95 and will add extra troopers this weekend.
Earlier this week, several media outlets reported that as many as 3,000 truck drivers planned to organize a rally along the Beltway. On Friday, the protesters appeared to be disorganized and lacked a clear, official leader or agenda.
Earl Conlon, a trucker from Georgia, who was "handling logistics" for the three-day protest, said the group planned to clog the inner loop of the Beltway and circle I-495 at the 55mph speed limit "to seek the arrest of congressmen for allegedly disregarding the Constitution."
"It's going to be real fun for anyone who is not a supporter," Conlon told U.S. News & World Report. "If cops decide to give us a hard time, we're going to lock the brakes up, we're going to stop right there, we're going to be a three-lane roadblock."
Conlon said that the protesters were seeking “the arrest of everyone in government who has violated their oath of office.”
He later retracted his comments about bringing the Beltway to a grinding halt, claiming it was all a hoax to generate publicity.
“The comments to U.S. News were designed to do one thing and one thing only: stir the feather of the mainstream media,” he told the Washington Post. “Nothing gets the attention of the mainstream media like some sort of disastrous threat. I knew it was going to ruffle some feathers.”