Surveying the damage to the trucking sector after a weekend of riots; it could have been worse

The trucking sector is looking over the landscape of rioting and looting in numerous American cities and counting up the impact on operations.

By far the most disastrous interaction between a truck and the protesters occurred in Minneapolis. A tanker truck appeared to have deliberately sped toward a group of protesters on a bridge on Interstate 35.

“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” the Minnesota State Patrol said in its Twitter feed. “The truck driver was injured and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck.”

The driver of the truck was identified as Bogdan Vechirko. He was dragged from the truck by protesters, and was taken to the hospital with what were described as non-life threatening injuries.

The potential threat to drivers has been clear to those in the industry who remember 1992, and the attack on construction truck driver Reginald Denny. Denny was pulled out of his cab in Los Angeles when riots began in the wake of the acquittal of police officers who had been charged with assaulting Rodney King during an earlier arrest. Denny suffers from life-long debilitating injuries as a result of the attack. 

(A video of of the incident in Minneapolis can be seen here.

There was a trucking-related death in St. Louis, when a protester was dragged by a FedEx truck.

According to news reports, the truck had been on Interstate 70 going through St. Louis when it was forced off the road. But when it was on local streets it faced more local protesters and was forced to stop. 

According to the reports, the double-trailer FedEx truck was stopped by a group of protesters. 

Police statements about the incident said two protesters climbed on the running board of the tractor and pointed guns at the driver. Others had already begun trying to loot some of the freight in the twin trailers. 

That included a man who was between the two trailers. When the driver began to pull away, he was run over and killed. 

Although there were no  reports of injuries from an incident in Chicago, a startling video shows a UPS truck being looted before the driver manages to pull away.

The protests created a patchwork of road closures over the weekend; some officially confirmed with others more anecdotal. 

In Minneapolis, the epicenter of the protests and the site of George Floyd’s death, portions of interstates 35, 94, 394 and local highway 55 was closed overnight until the city’s curfew was lifted at 6 a.m. As of publication time, the Minnesota Department of Transportation had not published any updates on its Twitter site regarding further closures.

Other reports of closures came in from around the country. Interstate 630 in Little Rock, Arkansas was closed for several hours. Memphis also reported highway closures. Highway 101 in San Jose was closed due to protests. Ramps to downtown off interstate 90 were closed in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

In particular, the reaction to the incident in Minneapolis led to a robust discussion on many trucker-related boards on the internet. As one poster put it: “Two weeks ago we were labeled essential and today we are labeled as murderers.”

In a similar vein of frustration, another driver posted this: “Stay home. Truckers are getting pulled out of their trucks by mobs on highways. Every city with a population over 20,000 is a potential problem spot. Just stop.”

A FreightWaves report yesterday highlighted the steps that Amazon and other companies were taking in reaction to the protests and riots. You can see that report here.