'People's Convoy' members sue D.C. for alleged free speech violations

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, May 4, 2022:

People’s Convoy members file lawsuit against D.C. claiming freedom of speech violations

Members of the People’s Convoy -- which spent a number of weeks in Washington, D.C., in March in efforts to end COVID-related mandates and the national emergency declaration around COVID, the latter still in effect -- are suing the District of Columbia for allegedly violating the First Amendment rights of the participants filing the lawsuit. There are 16 plaintiffs in the suit against D.C.

Court documents state that 13 individuals planned to drive to D.C. “with the intent to lawfully exercise their First Amendment rights in protest of the current administration’s continued state of emergency declaration and COVID-19 related policies. [They] also wanted to honor the 13 service members who lost their lives in Afghanistan on Aug. 26, 2021.”

The lawsuit says the drivers gathered in Hagerstown, Maryland, and traveled together in “13 trucks for 13 fallen soldiers” to Washington, D.C., “only to discover the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) had formed blockades at the points of entry into the District.”

The lawsuit claims the blockades were solely to prevent the drivers from entering the capital to exercise free speech -- a violation of their First Amendment rights, they claim. The lawsuit adds that MPD’s actions also allegedly resulted in two fatalities when a motor vehicle crashed into the blockades.

[Related: 'People's Convoy' meets Republican Sens., Reps.]

Court documents detail several different attempts by the convoy using different routes from Hagerstown to enter D.C. that were unsuccessful due to MPD’s blockades.

The lawsuit also claims D.C. violated the plaintiffs’ rights to due process and equal protection under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs ask that D.C.’s blockade policy be ruled unconstitutional and for declaratory relief in the form of an order declaring that D.C. violated the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by enforcing its blockade policy. The lawsuit also asks that the drivers be allowed to enter D.C. to lawfully engage in their First Amendment rights and for an injunction preventing MPD from interfering with those efforts. The group also asks for monetary relief in the form of nominal, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an award of their costs and attorneys’ fees.

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[Related: What I saw in Indianapolis of the 'People's Convoy']

Penske now leasing electric terminal tractors

Penske Truck Leasing is adding Orange EV electric terminal trucks for use with customers across the U.S.

The vehicles are designed for trailer-handling operations in truck yards, warehousing and distribution centers, container terminals and related operations where short-distance moves are required. The units will be leased and maintained by Penske, and charging will take place in the customer’s yard, plugging in when the vehicles are not in operation.

“As we continue furthering our relationship with Orange EV and after spending significant time understanding this equipment’s capabilities, we are very pleased to make it a new product offering for our sales force in the U.S.,” said Paul Rosa, senior vice president of procurement and fleet planning for Penske Truck Leasing. “We currently have several customers placing orders for these units and taking delivery of their equipment.”

Among the features of the Orange EV trucks are: Zero tailpipe emissions; regenerative braking with 50% shorter stopping distance; running up to 24 hours on a single charge; and remote diagnostic capabilities.

[Related: Surprising ways owner-ops and small fleets might make EVs work: A realistic outlook]

Trillium, Cummins partner to help carriers transition to alternative fuel tech

The Love’s Family of Companies and Cummins recently agreed to work together to help customers use alternative-fuel and lower-emissions technologies.

Renewable and alternative fueling provider Trillium will take the driver’s seat at Love’s in the development and deployment of strategies to support the initiative, the companies said. 

Trillium and Cummins will collaborate to assist customers who want to integrate alternative fuel technologies into their fleets by providing information, technology and infrastructure needed to save them time and money. 

“Together, Trillium and Love’s provide customers a variety of fueling options across the country,” said Ryan Erickson, vice president of Trillium. “This new relationship will make it easier for customers wanting to make the switch to zero- and near-zero-emissions vehicles.” 

Currently, Trillium offers renewable natural gas (RNG), compressed natural gas (CNG), electric vehicle charging (EV) and hydrogen fueling options for light and heavy-duty vehicles at more than 200 locations across the country, including Trillium-branded stations and Love’s Travel Stops. Cummins’ portfolio of power solutions for commercial vehicles includes  diesel, natural gas, and hydrogen internal combustion engine-based powertrains, as well as battery electric and fuel cell electric powertrains.