Shutdown Shut Down: Black Smoke Matters Concedes, “It’s A Losing Fight”
SHUTDOWN SHUT DOWN, part 1
In recent months, Transportation Nation Network received unprecedented access inside the planning of the nationwide trucker shutdown organized by Black Smoke Matters (BSM). In this two-part series we will explore what led BSM leaders to throw in the towel on the short-lived shutdown, why critics say it was always going to fail, and what’s next for the controversial social media group.
It’s over. The intensely-debated nationwide trucker shutdown, organized by the social media group Black Smoke Matters (BSM), has ended.
The shutdown began on Friday, April 12 with a flurry of slow roll protests around the U.S., but quickly fizzled and came to an unceremonious ending on Monday, April 15 at noon when BSM leaders went back to work.
“It’s a losing fight,” Joe Denney, a founder of BSM, told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) in an exclusive interview on Monday. “You’ve got too many spineless people out here.”
Denney and other key BSM leaders were deeply disappointed with the lack of turnout for the slow roll protests on Friday, particularly in New York City and Chicago.
“It was over Friday,” BSM leader Patrick Karns told TNN. “We lost when we didn’t have thousands of trucks show up.”
Fewer than 40 BSM members chose to participate in the Chicago demonstration which police thwarted by closing exits and making it impossible for the group to travel into to the downtown area.
Simultaneously, fewer than 30 trucks made their way into Manhattan.
“We were out here fighting for a generation that is going to lose their freedom. It hurts my heart people didn’t stand up for better training and to save innocent families lives.” – Joe Denney, BSM founder
The truckers in New York were at least successful in garnering some media attention before police, citing safety and traffic concerns, demanded they leave. Authorities then escorted the BSM convoy out of the city.
Meanwhile, a contingent of BSM leaders, including Karns, later made their way to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Field Office in Matteson, Illinois on Friday.
While there, they met via video conferencing with FMCSA representatives, including Administrator Ray Martinez, from the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters.
Karns said that once it was clear BSM was unable to deliver strong participation from its members, all leverage to negotiate with FMCSA over the group’s outlined list of concerns was lost.
BSM leaders were then forced to take a sober look at the ongoing viability of the shutdown. It led to them pulling the plug.
“We didn’t have anybody stand with us,” Denney lamented. “We needed them out on the front line with us.”
Before the shutdown BSM leaders told TNN they were “hopeful” their members, who had expressed their intention to support the protest, would actually follow through.
While it is unclear how many truckers did, in fact, shutdown and stay home, for BSM leaders, the lack of public support signaled the end of the road.
“We’ve all lost a lot of time and money for people not to show up,” Karns commented.
Denney went so far as to say he was heartbroken over the outcome. “We were out here fighting for a generation that is going to lose their freedom. It hurts my heart people didn’t stand up for better training and to save innocent families lives.”
“It was over Friday. We lost when we didn’t have thousands of trucks show up.” – Patrick Karns, BSM leader
Then, in a move that surprised many of the group’s more than 26,000 members, leaders archived the BSM Facebook page on Saturday.
This effectively prevents members from making any new posts onto the page.
BSM leaders said they made the move to clean up the page from unwanted negativity.
“All the negativity was hurting the movement more than it was helping,” Shawn Link, a BSM Facebook page administrator, told TNN.
Link said the group had been infiltrated by “fake profiles” and people looking to cause dissension.
Denney said it was important to remove the “trolls and haters” from the page in order to move forward.
So, what’s next for BSM after such a bitter defeat?
“We are going back to the original plan for BSM… adopting highways, building playgrounds, participating in Truckers for Tots, and doing things to help veterans and the homeless,” Denney said.
Link said members can expect the Facebook page to be back up and running as normal in about 10 days.
PART TWO: Why Did The Shutdown Fail?
In part two, we reveal what BSM leaders say really doomed the shutdown.
We will also hear from critics and discover why they believe the shutdown never had a chance to succeed.
Plus, could a shutdown actually be effective?
Want more of TNN’s BSM coverage? Click HERE.