Month: July 2020

Trucking Exec Warns Cities Defunding Police…”You’re Going to Run out of Food!”

Chicago, IL – The co-owner and vice president of a large refrigerated fleet is speaking out and issuing a warning to leaders and residents of cities defunding police.

In a series of recent national and international media interviews, Mike Kucharski, co-owner and V.P. of Illinois-based JKC Trucking, is pulling no punches when it comes to the growing “Defund the Police” movement.

Kucharski, who is a second-generation truck driver, says he was once attacked by an intruder who burst into his truck while making a delivery, and refuses to send his drivers into areas without the presence of law enforcement.

“No load or cargo is worth my driver’s life or safety,” he recently told Canadian radio show host Roy Green. “JKC supports our drivers and police is the critical part of protecting our drivers on the road.”

Kucharski indicated JKC drivers are also expressing their concerns.

“Most of my drivers have already come to me and said, ‘Hey, are we going to have to go into these states?,’” Kucharski told Green.

Major cities such as Seattle, WA and Los Angeles, CA, have already taken steps to defund its local police departments and redirect those funds into social programs.

Just last week the New York City Council voted to slash $1 billion from the New York Police Department’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

The move will cancel a nearly 1,200-person police recruiting class set for next month.

However, leaders in Minneapolis are going further by seeking to replace its entire local law enforcement model.

On June 26, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously (12-0) to move ahead with a proposal to disband the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and replace it with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.”

Kucharski reserved his most direct warning to Minneapolis city leaders and Minnesota state officials.

“The state of Minnesota is going to be in big trouble if truck drivers won’t deliver essential goods groceries or perishables,” he said. “What are they going to do? They’re going to run out of food within three days max.”

Kucharski’s assessment is certainly notable given the fact he operates a 210-truck fleet specializing in the transportation of refrigerated and temperature-controlled items.

In a recent guest appearance on the Vicki McKenna Radio Show, Kucharski doubled down on his warning and broadened it to include every other state considering such defunding or dismantling efforts.

“These drivers have the right to refuse a load because they are worried about their own safety. If these drivers all refuse to go into these areas, the food supply chain collapses. There’s going to be no more essential goods. The people in these states are going to run out of food. Then there’s going to be complete chaos. I’d say 72 hours and that’s it. The party’s over,” he said.

While most major trucking associations and executives of larger companies have remained publicly quiet on the issue, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) has spoken to many who are concerned about the implications of taking more police off of the streets and the possible ramifications.

To this point, Kucharski admits most trucking executives aren’t speaking out about it, but says he believes many motor carrier executives feel similarly as he does about this issue.

“I would say the majority feel just as I do,” he told Green.

Truckers have flooded TNN’s social media and members only pages in recent weeks with comments similar to Kucharski’s.

“Truck drivers are already sounding the alarm!” Kucharski told McKenna.

However, the question remains, are leaders in these cities listening to truckers’ concerns or even considering what could result if the trucking industry refuses to offer service to their residents?

Kucharski told Green that is one of the reasons he is speaking out about it now.

“I would love to discuss what are we going to do? How are we going to keep our drivers safe?”

So far, he says he has yet to hear from any policy makers about these concerns.


Amid protests, truckers determined not to become the next Reginald Denny

Reginald Denny, a 39-year old white truck driver who was brutally beaten by an angry mob during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, haunts the minds of today’s truck drivers as violent protests have erupted over the death of George Floyd.

Following the acquittal of the Los Angeles Police Department officers involved in the beating of Rodney King, a black motorist, a local news chopper captured video of four men pulling Denny from his dump truck and beating him. At one point, Denny was hit on the head with a cinder block.

The attack left Denny nearly dead until four black residents protected him and drove him to the hospital after seeing the footage of the assault on television. However, the former truck driver still has permanent physical damage from the 1992 beating, and today’s truckers fear another similar attack in today’s environment is just around the corner.

Mark Staite, a 20-year professional driver out of Melbourne, Florida, wrote a May 31 post on a popular trucker Facebook forum he created called the Rookie Room, writing in part:

“Dear America…”

Staite continued, “We will defend ourselves every time, up to and including, using our 80,000lb trucks and it’s 1,800 foot-pounds of torque to run you over. We don’t want to, but will if we have to, to save our own life.”

“Cities where looting, rioting, and stopping trucks is happening…. You are hereby put on notice,” he added.

Staite’s post received overwhelming agreement from drivers and retired drivers in the forum.

Mike Kucharski, owner of JKC Trucking, confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Denny is on the mind of his drivers.

“Yes. Everyone remembers Reginald Denny,” said Kucharski.

“If you’ve been in the trucking business long enough, somebody’s gonna break into your truck, break into your trailer,” Kucharski said. “They’re gonna want to steal something from you.”

“They’re gonna want to hijack something from you,” he said. “It’s inevitable, because wherever they go, they’ll run into these people. So, truck drivers will try to defend themselves.”

Truck drivers over the past several weeks have already been targets of angry protesters since Floyd, a 46-year old black man, died while being held down by a Minneapolis police officer, since fired, during an arrest in late May.

As riots broke out in different cities, truckers were targeted, causing drivers to reach out to one another on social media to post about dangerous circumstances, such as reports of rocks and bricks being thrown from overpasses onto vehicles below, or crowds of protesters stopping and swarming vehicles.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz confirmed on May 30 that truck drivers were being stopped by rioters and vehicles were robbed.

“They are stopping semis by blocking roads and then raiding what’s in them. This is not about George’s death. This is about chaos being caused,” he said at a press conference.

Denny’s story from 28 years ago has caused drivers to be more vigilant and establish ways to stay safe when protests turn violent. But some efforts have also led to unavoidable confrontations with protesters.

A FedEx truck dragged a man to his death in St. Louis early last month after it was forced off Interstate 70 by protesters and looted.

According to KMOV, as the truck slowed down to stop, demonstrators positioned themselves in front of the vehicle and began pounding on it while crawling onto the passenger side.

Police say two people on the passenger side of the truck aimed guns at the driver as others ran off with packages from the vehicle. The driver, reportedly in fear for his life, sounded his horn and drove away. Attorneys for the family of the deceased dispute the presence of any guns.

One owner-operator, Bogdan Vechirko, plowed a fuel tanker through a crowd of thousands of protesters on I-35 West in Minneapolis on May 31. Although he did not hit anyone and there were no injuries, the protesters pulled him out of his truck and beat him until other demonstrators stopped the assault.

Colin Mooney, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, told Overdrive Online that drivers are better off to plan ahead and avoid areas of protests when possible.

Mooney says he understands truck drivers do “not want to be the next Reginald Denny.” “You never want to be in a confrontational situation. The best course of action is always avoidance and not being caught up in the middle,” he said.