Trucker Plans to Fight Back in Wake of Minneapolis Bridge Incident, Many Ready to Join Him

NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Petitions Demanding “Charge and Convict” Minneapolis Trucker Grow to 30,000 Supporters


Minneapolis, MN – A New Jersey trucker who became a household name within the grassroots trucking community during the recent battle with brokers is taking on a new fight… and this time, he says it is about something much bigger than low rates.

In recent months, Rick Santiago has become an influential voice representing thousands of truckers and devoted social media followers.

Multiple social media videos made to expose the alleged abuses by freight brokers during the COVID-19 pandemic went viral within the trucking community, and even helped propel an historic three-week protest in Washington D.C.




 

He’s beloved in some corners of the trucking industry and reviled in others.

However, Santiago tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) his goal is always to “help the truck drivers of America.”

In the wake of the miraculously bizarre incident that took place last Sunday along Interstate 35 in Minneapolis, the social media firebrand is now setting his sights on another mission.

Santiago is coming to the defense of 35-year-old Minnesota owner operator, Bogdan Vechirko, who unintentionally drove his semi-tanker into an estimated crowd of 5,000 protesters before being pulled from the rig and physically assaulted.

“This isn’t about rates [no more], this is about our rights,” Santiago declared in a social media video on Friday. “We have a right to stand our ground and defend ourselves.”



 

Santiago says he is outraged that protesters are demanding criminal charges be filed despite traffic camera video proving Vechirko lawfully accessed the interstate, and authorities determining he had no intent to harm anyone, nor did he harm anyone.

In fact, as TNN first reported on Friday, protesters who attacked Vechirko will not face any charges while a new petition demanding Vechirko face charges has been launched.

It has gained more than 5,000 signatures in just a few days.

“What these protesters are now demanding is that he be charged with reckless endangerment and I have a big problem with this,” Santiago fumed. “Our rights are truly being stripped from us. We basically have to sit there and let them beat our trucks, yank us out, beat us, and kill us because we have no protection now.”

Though Minnesota authorities released Vechirko without charges on Tuesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman informed this week that the investigation was ongoing and charges could still be filed.




 

Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington also hinted that a possible charge could be forthcoming.

“We are certainly getting to the right charge that holds him accountable,” Harrington said at a press conference this week.

“I swear to God I will call on every single truck in America to shut down if he is charged! Why? Because then we don’t have any rights at all,” Santiago responded.

Despite the overwhelming evidence clearing Vechirko of criminal intent or negligence, authorities did indicate he was “likely speeding” at 70 mph before the protesters fully came into view on the bridge.


WANT MORE? GET MORE!

Click HERE to get more of TNN’s coverage of Vechirko.


Santiago believes authorities could be stretching to find a charge in order to simply appease those who are demanding Vechirko face consequences.

“What is happening now is domestic terrorism. So, basically what they are saying is if this guy isn’t charged [then] the city of Minneapolis will be under siege,” Santiago asserted.

 

Also in recent days, those seeking to smear Vechirko have labeled him a “white supremacist.”

They largely base that claim on campaign finance records which reveal that, in 2019, he contributed $100 to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.

In 2018, he made two contributions totaling $215 to the Republican National Committee.

Santiago calls the allegation “ridiculous.”


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He also blasted trucking industry groups, along with the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), for not speaking up in support of Vechirko.

Santiago made his intentions clear.

“If this guy is charged with so much as a misdemeanor… I will make sure that thousands of trucks show up in Minnesota.”



 

Since posting the video about Vechirko, it has racked up more than 150,000 views in about 24 hours.

Santiago tells TNN he immediately began receiving messages from supporters promising solidarity and commitments to join him in the fight.

Make sure to stay logged on to TransportationNation.com for the latest developments on this story.

WATCH Santiago’s video below. (Advisory: contains strong language)



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Comment (20)

    1. Really?? What a dumb ass question!! The driver knew if he stopped his life would be in danger!! He was right to keep moving..Drivers have no way protect ourselves. But to say something as stupid like you did tells me you’re not a driver.

    2. Definitely not a driver because our trucks weigh 40 tons not 12 and the interstate is for trucks to move freight, not for people to riot and assault drivers. Go crawl in your ignorant hole.

  1. This was an incredibly dangerous thing to do, 70 miles-an-hour, heading into a crowd,” State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said during a news conference Tuesday. “This could have been a multiple fatality incident, in which case we’d be talking about criminal vehicular operation. Then, regardless of intent at that point, we would still be looking at a very serious charge.”

  2. What is not mentioned in this article is the fact the tanker was loaded with fuel. If the protestors start fiddling with the valves on the equipment, you’ve got real serious issue real fast.

  3. Ok first of all you don’t know the full details of what happened in that trucker’s mind or what speed he was “actually” going. Secondly, as truck drivers we are trained from day one to be the ones leading by example on the highway. You maintain the defensive driving the entire time. He didnt show any signs of trying to slow down early in that video at all. Also he was on a highway that was reportedly closed off to trucks. So there’s the first mistake and with him driving a tanker its that much more paramount to do a proper trip planning before going on the highway so you don’t drive on non truck routes. To me he got what he deserved. You don’t see any other truck drivers doing what he did. How bout we stand up for our country and fight for the businesses we’re delivering to that are getting burned to the ground? Now there’s something worth fighting for.

    1. You are a damn protester yourself tell the truth! Do you think you should be beat and Robbed because you cross the street and it wasn’t a crosswalk on your way to work is that how you think the law should be and you charged for jaywalking! That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard if that goddamn racist bunch black lives matters Wants to start shit with truck drivers I say we shut the fucking country down see whose lives matters then

  4. If they didn’t charge him from the beginning then why after a protest are they considering it now all because they want to appease the protesters? Sounds like we just don’t have a prayer..

  5. Really?? What a dumb ass question!! The driver knew if he stopped his life would be in danger!! He was right to keep moving..Drivers have no way protect ourselves. But to say something as stupid like you did tells me you’re not a driver.

  6. Drivers, if you are attacked by protesters you are well within your rights to get out of it. Even if it includes running over someone. Now if your actions cause your truck to be attacked that’s another matter. However driving near protesters does not give them the right to assault anyone or their property. In fact that’s not a legal form of protest. A legal protest is a peacable protest. It’s in the constitution. I’ll personally refuse loads to any state where truckers have been assaulted. These idiots using protests as an excuse to terrorize people, businesses and property should be put down and not condoned. For those who worry about being sued, if you drive away due to violent actions being taken against you, they have no case to sue you. However you could counter sue and likely win a case. Until the government does it’s job ending these riots I would just refuse loads to hot spots. If you do get surrounded by protesters then stop until they let you pass. If they begin attacking then you drive to a safe Haven. Drive straight, don’t aim for people and your doing the right thing. It’s a shame that a methhead criminal died when he shouldn’t have. The cop is dirty, but don’t commit crimes? He would be alive today if not for being criminal

    1. The government has seemed to have misplaced their balls. We need to protect ourselves. Don’t deliver in any state that has assaulted a trucker. Get a list and publish it to every trucker. Rick Santiago wants us to go to Mn to fight back- let’s go! Rick wants us to shut down every truck- do it!!! Do it on LABOR Day for two weeks and let this country suffer for their injustices and cruelty against us.

  7. That tanker driver is A COMPLETE ASS HOLE!
    He was speeding and not paying attention!
    What happened to the Smith system in this case? Does he even know what it is? All he had to do was put on his Hazzard lights and drop down to 5 or 10 mph. Those people didn’t want his ass until he did that dumb ass shit! I come from old school truck driving, what happened to when drivers are in the middle Lane with their thumb up their ass day dreaming and another driver wanted to pass they got over! Now all u see is dumb ass drivers sitting in the middle Lane texting and eating a damn hamburger and look stupid @ u when u have to go around them! I wish the hell I would shut my truck down for some of these dumb ass drivers out here that don’t know a damn thing about real trucking.

  8. Amen brother. This country allows us the freedom for all to speak. Shutting down a federal Interstate should never be an option. It is dangerous and impedes interstate commerce. That could prevent critical cargo from delivery. Permits are needed to protest but should not include federal funded roads. Unless the permit is granted by a federal court. If that was not received those protesters where breaking the law and putting themselves and others in harms way.

  9. A dum ass could tell two million unarmed idiots can come infront of the the truck,and if the the driver doesnt want to stop you can’t make him stop.this situation as said by the driver was totally unintentional but it was written on his face that he is trump suppoter as assumed right at the moment and if you say crowd was mad about something then what would have happened if he got mad with them and on them. I am not a trump supporter nor against him.
    This truck driver was not at wrong at all.

  10. You lead truckers down too Washington, thank you! Man stay in your lane. That guy deliberately drove his rig through traffic. It’s not only Black Lives Mattet Looting Its All Race. You really dont want them problems my friend. He has to deal with the consequences, I am starting to think that you have a problem with BLACK LIVES MATTER?

  11. I noticed people don’t gather all the facts of this incident. They read a paragraph of somebody’s opinion then they explode with their own opinion. There is so much to take into consideration specially the events two minutes before the encounter. My message to fellow Truckers is..; when you encounter a situation like this, stop the vehicle right on the spot,light up your Emergency Flashers and take one minute an analyze your position and call 911 if necessary. Sad days….these days. Be safe and work on getting home safe to your family.

  12. Evidently the Interstate wasn’t blocked off or the driver couldn’t have got on it unless he ran over a police car or smashed through a barricade and we all know better. Here’s my question, why is there 2000 or more people protesting in the middle of a major Interstate???? Seriously! You could find a safer place to have a protest but this shouldn’t be allowed period. Now you want my opinion on who should be arrested. We had Florida,Charlotte,N.C.,Ferguson,Minneapolis,Chicago,Los Angeles,etc. and if my memory serves me correct they all were up to no good. Here’s another question. Why don’t the white people protest everytime a white person dies? Hell you wouldn’t be able to drive period. It’s all nonsense and I’m tired of it. So a few of you are saying all of this is fine and you would stop if you’re driving a 18 wheeler or a vehicle period and you approached something similar to this knowing it’s wrong and you’re going to die next. Wrong answer and you know it. I hope I never encounter a situation like this. Bottom line – Don’t be playing on the Interstates across the U.S.

  13. After what happened to other drivers in the past, I wouldn’t stop either. As fuel haulers our companies tell us to never stop unnecessarily since of course a tanker can be used for nefarious reasons.

    But if Mr. Santiago wants to really shake things up, all he would have to do is get every fuel hauler to go on strike. In 2 days the country would on its knees.

    If you think people went stupid over toilet paper, imagine what would happen if fuel stopped getting dropped.

  14. #1 Don’t congregate in a traffic lane.
    #2 Don’t believe people will get out of your way.
    #3 Driver was already traveling on the Interstate before ALL on-ramps were closed. Obviously, law enforcement did not have all on-ramps blocked, nor verified the roads clear.
    #4 Driver did not drive 70mph into crowd, although he should have stopped completely (situation awareness).
    #4 An empty fuel tanker will explode from the fumes and residual fuel present.
    #5 Driver moved left to avoid running over a person who had fallen. (Refer to #2)
    #6 Like most events, there are several extenuating circumstances.

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