‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters at Canada’s Ambassador Bridge arrested and vehicles towed away, police say

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Still, the White House released a statement Sunday afternoon from Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall that “Canadian authorities intend to reopen” the bridge on Sunday “after conducting necessary security checks.” .

Sherwood-Randall said the two countries discussed “the imperative to take swift and strong action and deter a future blockade.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said earlier that cross-border traffic would resume when police determine “it is safe to do so” now that “our national economic crisis” at the Ambassador Bridge is over.

“There will be zero tolerance for illegal activities,” the police said in a report.

Elsewhere, protesters continued to block parts of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, for the third straight weekend and staged disruptive blockades at other border crossings. Counter-demonstrations in recent days have also increased.

In Ottawa, an impromptu attempt by residents on Sunday to block an intersection and prevent vehicles from joining the downtown convoy turned into a 200-person protest by people who said they were tired of feeling unsafe in their city . On Friday, the City of Ottawa, responding to frustrated residents, filed an injunction against protesters who break city bylaws.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the federal government is considering invoking the never-before-used Emergencies Act 1988, which gives the federal government broad powers subject to parliamentary approval.

“The closure of our borders, the targeting of critical infrastructure, especially our entry points by those behind these protests, poses a significant threat to the national security of this country, and we must do what is necessary. to end it,” Blair said. CTV of Canada.

On February 12, authorities attempted to lift a protest blockade near the Ambassador Bridge, a key trade corridor to Detroit. (The Washington Post)

In Windsor, police began moving to disperse crowds near the bridge, which has been closed since Monday, around 7 a.m. local time on Sunday. After law enforcement enforced an injunction on Friday ordering truckers and their supporters to leave and have vehicles towed, a a defiant core of around two dozen protesters remained on foot as temperatures dipped below freezing.

Windsor police said on Saturday a 27-year-old man was arrested “for a criminal offense in connection with the protest” at an intersection near the US-Canada border.

The disruptions also affected other vital cross-border arteries – including that of Coutts, albertawhich connects Montana, and that of Surrey in British Columbia to the State of Washington.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed that “all options are on the table” to resolve the crisis and that “border crossings cannot and will not remain closed,” his office said in a statement. He has previously rejected calls for the deployment of the army to break up the protest in Ottawa.

On February 11, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised President Biden swift action to end blockades by anti-vaccine protesters at border crossings. (Reuters)

Both Canada and the United States have denounced the border disruptions as damaging to trade, industry and local communities. Goods worth around $360 million – a quarter of the value of all goods traded between the two countries – are transported across the Ambassador Bridge every day. Automakers including Toyota and Ford have reduced some nearby operations in recent days, citing disruptions in the delivery of necessary manufacturing parts.

In Ottawa, police attacked protesters for a third weekend in a row despite local and provincial authorities declaring a state of emergency. Freedom Convoy protesters remained at the site despite being threatened with fines, jail time and the loss of their licenses. Police made no major effort to disrupt the convoy in Ottawa, unlike what they did Sunday in Windsor.

Ottawa police said Saturday more than 4,000 protesters were in the city throughout the day.

“Security concerns – resulting from the aggressive and unlawful behavior of many protesters – have limited policing capabilities,” police said in a statement.

The Freedom Canada Convoy – which began in opposition to vaccination mandates for cross-border truckers and snowballed into a protest against public health measures and the government – ​​has continued to inspire protests around the world over the weekend.

Across the Atlantic, French demonstrators temporarily block the Champs-Élysées, a central artery of Paris, Saturday, despite a decree prohibiting them from entering the capital. Local points of sale reported that the police made at least 97 arrests.

Further in the New Zealand capital, people inspired by Canadian protesters blocked off an area outside Parliament in Wellington for the sixth day on Sunday – as officials tried to use sprinklers and songs like “Baby Shark” to broadcast the protest, to no avail.

In Canada, as Trudeau and police come under pressure to do more to contain the vociferous protests, some local officials have acknowledged the risks posed by mass arrests or tougher measures. Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor, has warned that the arrests could lead to violence, telling a press conference last week that some protesters believe they are “fighting for a cause worth dying for”.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey, British Columbia, southeast of Vancouver, said on Saturday evening that there was still “a significant traffic jam” on the main road leading to the Pacific Highway border crossing at Blaine, Washington. The crowd “is starting to thin out”, but there were “still a number of individuals on foot”, police said. An incident involving “a few vehicles” crossing police barricades and driving the wrong way down a street was being investigated, police said, noting there were no injuries.

In Nova Scotia, protesters blocked the Marine Atlantic terminal in North Sydney on Saturday – the starting point for major ferry routes to Canada’s easternmost provinces. Demonstrations have also targeted border crossings in Manitoba and Alberta, as well as Sarnia in Ontario.

Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario called the blockade a seat” and declared a provincial state of emergency on Friday, warning protesters of “serious” consequences, including fines of up to $78,500 and jail time.

In Ottawa, in continued defiance of the state of emergency, noisy dance parties took place in the blocked streets. As police on foot and in cars stood guard, convoys of trucks honked their horns, flouting noise ordinances and a court order, and fireworks were illegally set off into the crowd. Some people openly drank cans and bottles of liquor, another violation of Ottawa law.

Hundreds of people joined a counter-protest on Saturday afternoon in Ottawa, marching and psalmody “Whose streets? Our streets! and “Hey hey, ho ho, this convoy of truckers has to go!”

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, capital of the province of Alberta, police Posted 10 tickets and said they would issue another 60 in the mail as protesters in trucks and on foot marched toward a federal building in the city’s downtown.

Counter-protesters briefly blocked a convoy on a road leading to the Alberta Legislature, local media reported.

— Amanda Coletta in Ottawa, and Meryl Kornfield and Claire Parker in Washington, contributed to this report.

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