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Canada police in standoff with protesters blocking bridge to U.S.

Posted: Saturday, February 12, 2022. 11:45 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Reuters reports that despite arrests, protesters opposing government pandemic restrictions continue to block a key bridge linking Canada to the United States on Saturday.

Police have managed to push protestors back from the foot of the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit, Michigan, to Windsor, Ontario after a court-ordered end to the blockade and imposition of a state of emergency by Ontario provincial authorities.

The Ambassador Bridge is North America’s busiest land border crossing. Since Monday, protesters in trucks, cars, and vans have blocked traffic in both directions, choking the supply chain for Detroit’s carmakers.

The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started in the capital Ottawa by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered its 16th day on Saturday. It has morphed into a wider protest against COVID-19 curbs, with people joining in with smaller vehicles, including cars, vans, and pick-up trucks.

During a meeting of his top advisers on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed border crossings cannot, and will not, remain closed, and all options remain on the table, a readout issued by his office said.

Early on Saturday, Windsor Police urged demonstrators to act lawfully and peacefully. Officers in black uniforms with yellow vests moved behind the demonstrators’ vehicles and, accompanied by police cruisers, slowly advanced on the protesters, pushing them back from the bridge entrance. The number of demonstrators had thinned to roughly two dozen early on Saturday from about 200 on Friday night.

Protesters moved back in a noisy but peaceful retreat, dismantling tents and barbecues. But since then, police have not progressed, witnesses said. Concrete barricades have been set up in front of the police near the Ambassador Bridge to keep protesters from reclaiming any ground.

Some 4,000 protesters gathered in downtown Ottawa on Saturday and some tore down a fence that had been erected around the National War Memorial. Ottawa Police has established a new command center consisting of federal and provincial police to respond to the escalation.

Protests have spread to other border points, including two smaller crossings in Alberta and Manitoba and Pacific Highway Border Crossing in British Columbia, strangling trade between the two countries.

The protests have inspired similar convoys and plans in the United States, France, New Zealand, and Australia.

 

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