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Oklahoma trucker footage predates Texas border standoff

Social media users are claiming a video shows truckers rolling through Oklahoma and toward Texas in January 2024 amid a standoff between the federal government and the US state's Republican officials over border enforcement. This is false; the clip, from 2022, shows a different convoy driving to Washington in protest of pandemic-era public health measures.

"The people's convoy passing through Oklahoma!! Freedom," says a January 27, 2024 post sharing the clip on X, formerly Twitter.

Text over the video says the vehicles are "Texas bound BABY."

<span>Screenshot from X taken January 29, 2024</span>
Screenshot from X taken January 29, 2024

Similar posts spread across X and other platforms amid a feud between President Joe Biden's administration and Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott over immigration -- a hot-button issue in the 2024 US election.

Border agents said authorities encountered a monthly record of just over 302,000 migrants crossing illegally in December 2023.

Texas has continued fortifying the banks of the Rio Grande despite a Supreme Court ruling that sided with the federal government in allowing Border Patrol agents to remove concertina wire barriers the state had erected in the area.

The rising tensions inspired a parade of truckers who call themselves the "Take Our Border Back" convoy to arrange a series of rallies. Backed by far-right figures, the group has primarily organized on Telegram and plans to visit several border states, with the first cohort having departed January 29, 2024 from Virginia (archived here and here).

But the convoy had not commenced its journey by January 27 -- and the video that circulated online that day is unrelated.

Reverse image and keyword searches uncovered the same footage shared in posts on TikTok and Instagram on February 28, 2022 -- with the identical text overlaid about the number of trucks and funds raised (archived here and here).

The posts indicate that the clip shows an earlier collection of truck drivers, known as "The People's Convoy," who drove from California to the nation's capital in early 2022 to protest mask mandates, vaccination requirements and other interventions to slow the spread of Covid-19.

In a pair of posts in a Facebook group for the People's Convoy, one of its organizers said the group is not connected to the Take Our Border Back demonstration (archived here and here).

Zooming into the video, AFP identified a highway exit sign with directions to the cities of Chandler and Cushing, Oklahoma, then used that information to geolocate the footage to a stretch of the Turner Turnpike near Exit 166 (archived here).

<span>Screenshot from Instagram taken January 29, 2024, with elements magnified by AFP</span>
Screenshot from Instagram taken January 29, 2024, with elements magnified by AFP

Google Maps Street View imagery shows the same freeway, overpass, street signs, guardrails, grass, shadows and nearby parking lot as can be seen in the video -- and indicates that the trucks were driving eastbound, rather than south toward Texas.

<span>Screenshot from Instagram taken January 29, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP</span>
Screenshot from Instagram taken January 29, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP
<span>Screenshot from Google Maps Street View taken January 29, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP</span>
Screenshot from Google Maps Street View taken January 29, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP

The mapped-out driving routes for the Take Our Border Back convoy do not include any roads through Oklahoma (archived here).

The convoy's website says its main group planned to depart Virginia Beach, driving through Jacksonville, Florida, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, en route to Eagle Pass, Texas -- the site of the standoff between Texas and federal agents (archived here). Roughly 20 vehicles left on January 29, 2024, journalists tracking the effort reported.

A separate group plans to travel from Dripping Springs, Texas, to Yuma, Arizona, starting February 1, and a third is slated to set off for Yuma from San Ysidro, California on February 3.

AFP previously debunked another video that falsely claimed to show the Take Back Our Border convoy here.