A tense standoff at a US-Canadian border crossing crucial to both countries’ economies appeared to be dissolving peacefully Saturday as Canadian police moved in to disperse the nearly weeklong blockade and demonstrators began leaving without resistance.
Many demonstrators drove away from the Ambassador Bridge spanning the river between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, as scores of police approached shortly after dawn.
They had spent the night there in defiance of new warnings to end the blockade, which disrupted the flow of traffic and goods and forced the auto industry on both sides to roll back production.
Surrounded by dozens of officers, one man with “Trump 2024” and “Mandate Freedom” spray-painted on his vehicle left in the morning as other protesters began dismantling a small tarp-covered encampment.
The demonstrators are protesting against Canada’s Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. There is also an outpouring of fury toward the prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
“The Windsor Police & its policing partners have commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge. We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully. Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time,” police tweeted.
A judge on Friday ordered protesters at the Ambassador Bridge over the US-Canadian border to end the blockade that has now entered a sixth day.
Di venerdì, the Ontario premier, Doug Ford, declared a state of emergency in the province that will allow his cabinet to impose $100,000 fines and up to one year in jail as punishments against people who continue to illegally block roads, ponti, walkways and other critical infrastructure.
Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of the Ontario superior court issued an injunction giving protesters blocking cross-border traffic until 7pm Friday to clear out. tuttavia, the deadline came and went.
Windsor police immediately warned that anyone blocking the streets could be subject to arrest and their vehicles could be seized.
The news was met earlier with defiance by protesters.
The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest US-Canadian border crossing, carrying 25% of all trade between the two countries. The standoff comes at a time when the auto industry is already struggling to maintain production in the face of pandemic-induced shortages of computer chips and other supply-chain disruptions.
While the Canadian protesters are decrying vaccine mandates for truckers and other Covid-19 restrictions, many of the country’s infection measures, such as mask rules and vaccine passports for getting into restaurants and theaters, are already falling away as the Omicron surge levels off.
Pandemic restrictions have been far stricter in Canada than in the US, but Canadians have largely supported them. The vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, and the Covid-19 death rate is one-third that of the US.