Police move in to arrest protesters blockading Canada-U.S. bridge

Canadian police moved in and arrested protesters opposed to Covid-19 vaccine mandates who have been blocking the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge between the United States and Canada.

Windsor police said Sunday morning that several arrests were made, and that all of those arrested face a charge of mischief. Constable Talya Natyshak did not have an exact number but said most of the at least 12 arrests in the demonstration so far occurred Sunday, and at least five vehicles were seized.

“Enforcement actions continue at the demonstration area with arrests being made,” Ontario’s Windsor Police said in a tweet. “There will be zero tolerance for illegal activity. The public should avoid the area,” it added in separate post.

Television images Sunday morning showed officers arresting the few protesters who remained near the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario — the busiest border crossing to the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

Only two pickup trucks and less than a dozen protesters blocked the road to the bridge before police moved in, according to the AP. Afterward, police barricades remained and it was not immediately clear when the bridge might be opened.

By Sunday afternoon there were still a small group of demonstrators in Windsor, and officials had not announced when the bridge would reopen.

“Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador bridge came to an end,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a statement Sunday. He said when the bridge would reopen was up to police and border officials.

Police officers began to disperse protesters on Saturday after Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court ordered them to leave.

His ruling, at a hearing on Friday, came after the city of Windsor and lawyers for auto parts makers had successfully argued that the blockade was causing undue economic harm for the city and region by disrupting the flow of traffic and goods as well as forcing the auto industry on both sides to roll back production.

The closure of the bridge, which carries more than one-fourth of the trade between the U.S. and Canada, has affected an estimated $392.56 million a day in cross-border transactions.

The ramps to the bridge remained closed Sunday morning, Michigan State Police tweeted. It said trucks could use another border crossing, the Blue Water Bridge which is around 60 miles to the north, and that cars could use a tunnel.

The Windsor demonstration is one of multiple spinoffs tied to truckers’ “Freedom Convoy,” which started out against vaccination mandates for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border and has since evolved into opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and pandemic restrictions.

The protest is now in its third weekend in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, where hundreds of protesters have used their trucks to block city streets, blare their horns and disrupt traffic.

On Saturday, demonstrators also shut down smaller border crossings in Surrey, British Columbia; Emerson, Manitoba; and Coutts, Alberta, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency on Friday, saying he would use all government resources to end a two-week protest by Canadian truckers. He said the protests amounted to a “siege” of downtown Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge.

The protests have reverberated outside the country, inspiring similar convoys in Europe and New Zealand.

Inside Canada, the protests have sparked a backlash in both Ottawa and across the country over alleged harassment as well as the presence of Confederate flags and flags bearing swastikas.

A majority of Canadians oppose the truckers’ actions, according to an Ipsos poll.

Associated Press contributed.

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