Canadian police moved on Saturday to evacuate protesters from the Ambassador Bridge, which spans the border between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, following a nearly week-long blockade that blocked traffic and slowed chains supply in both countries.
Some pedestrians remained near an intersection on a road leading to the bridge later Saturday, including some talking or shouting at a line of standing police. Others sang the Canadian national anthem or shouted “Freedom!
Protests in Canada began more than two weeks ago when truckers converged on the capital, Ottawa, to demonstrate their opposition to a new rule requiring them to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or quarantine at home for two weeks upon their return. Canada after crossing the US border.
Since then, protests have spread to several different cities and border crossings, with people voicing their opposition to Canada’s Covid-19 mitigation measures, including restrictions on gatherings and mask mandates.
Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with about 4 in 5 Canadians fully immunized, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And nearly 90% of the country’s truckers are fully vaccinated and cleared to cross the border, according to the Canadian government.
Protesters also used tractor-trailers – and sometimes farm equipment and other vehicles – to block crossings between Emerson, Manitoba, and Pembina, North Dakota, as well as at the Coutts access point. between Alberta and Montana.
And about 50 vehicles have blocked access to the Canada-U.S. border at Emerson since Thursday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba said Saturday.
The blockade has alarmed political leaders, including in the United States.
“We are in an economic crisis because of this illegal blockade,” which is becoming a homeland security issue, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer told CNN on Friday.
Canadian officials discuss additional response
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other government officials were briefed on the law enforcement action in Windsor on Saturday, according to a statement from his office.
“The Prime Minister stressed that border crossing points cannot and will not remain closed and that all options remain on the table,” the statement read.
The ministers also discussed “other immediate actions being considered by the federal government” and will meet again on Sunday.
“Security concerns – stemming from the aggressive and unlawful behavior of many protesters – limit law enforcement capabilities,” the Ottawa Police Service said. “We expect the ICC to significantly enhance our police department’s ability to respond to the current situation in our city.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CNN he expects even more protests over the weekend.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” Watson said. “Particularly in neighborhoods where some of the protesters are going to restaurants and refusing to wear a mask and harassing staff and being really belligerent towards the people of our city.”
US officials are ‘ready’ if similar protests break out
Meanwhile in the United States, officials are bracing for similar protests, including one possibly affecting the Super Bowl in Southern California on Sunday.
“The convoy will potentially begin in California as early as mid-February and arrive in Washington, D.C., as late as mid-March, potentially impacting Super Bowl LVI scheduled for February 13 and the scheduled State of the Union address. for March 1,” a Department of Homeland Security bulletin said.
Additionally, a group in the United States said it is organizing two convoys of truckers that will head for the US-Canada border in Buffalo, New York, this weekend.
However, the city said Friday that no groups have applied for permission to hold events.
“Organizers have also failed to contact our Special Events Office to arrange the proper insurance and public safety planning that is required for all events in the city to ensure the health and safety of residents and visitors,” City of Buffalo spokesman Michael DeGeorge told CNN. “It is always a concern when laws designed to protect people and property are deliberately ignored.”
“We are ready for these trucks, but our goal is to keep our roads open and ensure residents and visitors are safe and healthy,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told CNN on Saturday.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Miguel Marquez and Kim Berryman reported from Windsor. Paula Newton, Paradise Afshar, Chris Isidore, Lucy Kafanov and Geneva Sands contributed to this report.