Canadian police move to clear trucker protests on border bridge
Canadian police approached demonstrators Saturday on a bridge that connects the U.S. and Canada in an effort to break up protests over a vaccine mandate that have blocked an important trade route for days.
The Windsor, Ontario, police tweeted that they had “commenced enforcement” near the Ambassador Bridge, which connects the city to Detroit.
“The Windsor Police & its policing partners have commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge,” the Windsor Police wrote on their official Twitter account Saturday morning. “We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully. Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time.”
The New York Times reported that officers stationed at the scene were not equipped with riot gear but formed a line, edging closer to the demonstrations. Some demonstrators broke down a tent they were using to store food and other supplies.
The paper reported that vehicles began to leave the area around 10 a.m., with protesters blaring their horns upon departure.
However, others were facing off with law enforcement, chanting and singing “O Canada,” the Canadian national anthem.
The days-long demonstrations by truckers began over a vaccine mandate issued by the Canadian and U.S. governments to cross the countries’ border.
Auto shops have been particularly affected by the protests on the Ambassador Bridge, which they use to transport auto parts daily.
The bridge is routinely used to transport $300 million of products per day. About a third of those products are related to the auto industry.
Some companies on both sides of the border shut down their plants Friday due to a lack of important parts as a result of the bridge blockade.
The police action came after a Canadian justice issued an order requiring that the demonstrations disperse and the blockade be removed. However, hours after the order went into effect Friday night, protesters remained.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned that protesters could face fines of up to 100,000 Canadian dollars and up to a year in prison if they refused to disperse.
“We know that the best solution to unlawful blockades is that people decide for themselves that they’ve been heard, that they have expressed their frustrations and disagreements, and that it is now time to go home,” said Trudeau Friday. “That is the message we’ve been sending for some time. But now there will be real consequences with respect to their licenses, their futures, their jobs.”