Windsor, Ontario (CNN) — Police in Canada began an effort on Saturday to evict protesters from the Ambassador Bridge across Detroit, in an effort to end a six-day blockade of North America’s busiest international crossing by protesters seeking measures to contain the Covid-19 virus. to denounce.
Dozens of police officers approached the protesters near the bridge on the Canadian side, in the town of Windsor, after 8 a.m. (Miami time). Some protesters walked away alone and dismantled an area of makeshift tents where they were given food and shelter.
On Saturday morning, some pedestrians stood at an intersection on a road leading to the bridge, some of them talking or yelling at a line of police officers. Neither arrest was seen by a CNN crew. About 20 protest vehicles remained.
Just before 11 a.m., Windsor Police tweeted that law enforcement was still underway and warned that people in the area of the demonstration would be arrested.
The move comes a day after a judge issued an order allowing police to begin clearing the bridge area and ending the blockade that has entangled supply chains and alarmed political leaders.
The judge gave the protesters until 7 p.m. Friday to end the blockade. The number of protesters dwindled overnight and several dozen vehicles remained parked at the base of the bridge as the sun rose on Saturday, a CNN crew on the scene said.
More protesters eventually moved out, even after police officers came in on Saturday morning.
Vehicles may be seized and impounded, Windsor police said after Friday’s court order. “One by one, we will start towing the cars as needed,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens Friday, a few hours before the deadline set by the judge.
Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford also declared a state of emergency on Friday, promising “serious” consequences for those involved in blockades on the bridge and elsewhere in the province, including demonstrations in the province’s capital, Ottawa.
People who fail to leave the blockades face a maximum penalty of C$100,000 and up to a year in prison, he said.
“So let me be as clear as possible, there will be consequences for these actions, and they will be serious. We have already started looking at the money funding the illegal occupation,” Ford said.
Demonstrations in Canada began last month, with truck drivers traveling to Ottawa from the west to protest new rules requiring Canadian truck drivers crossing the US-Canada border to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have two or more of them on their return. weeks in quarantine.
That protest drew other protesters across the country against other preventive measures against COVID-19, including restrictions on gatherings and mask mandates, especially in schools.
Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with about 4 in 5 Canadians being fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And according to the Canadian government, nearly 90% of truck drivers in the country are fully vaccinated and eligible to cross the border.
However, protesters have blocked downtown Ottawa for two weeks. led a judge to rule on Monday They must stop honking their horns.
And the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit isn’t the only border crossing affected. Protesters also used semi-trucks, and sometimes farm equipment and other vehicles, to block the intersections between Emerson, Manitoba and Pembina, North Dakota, as well as at the Coutts access point between Alberta and Montana.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CNN he expects more protesters this weekend.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” Watson said. “Especially in neighborhoods where some protesters go to restaurants and refuse to wear masks and harass staff and are really combative against our city residents.”
US officials warn similar protests are possible
The Canadian protests raise concerns among US officials that similar demonstrations could be provoked across the border. Right-wing media have raised the possibility of like-minded protests in the US and have positive coverage of those in Canada.
The protests in Canada are already “incredibly damaging” to many in the US Midwest, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer told CNN on Friday, adding that the protests have “hurt us in Michigan since day one.”
“We are in an economic crisis because of this illegal blockade,” which is becoming a national security issue, Whitmer said.
The United States Department of Homeland Security. warned state and local officials in a bulletin that a convoy of truck drivers protesting Covid-19 vaccination mandates could soon begin in the US, potentially impacting the Super Bowl in Southern California.
The convoy may start in California in mid-February and arrive in Washington in mid-March, which could affect Super Bowl LVI scheduled for February 13 and the State of the Union address scheduled for March 1. the bulletin.
Also, a group in the US said it is organizing two truck convoys going to the US-Canada border in Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday.
However, the city said on Friday that the group had not applied for permits to hold events.
Organizers also failed to contact our Office of Special Events to ensure the proper insurance and public safety planning required for all city events to ensure the health and safety of residents and visitors. Buffalo City spokesperson Michael DeGeorge told CNN, “It’s always a concern when laws designed to protect people and property are deliberately ignored.”
How Canadian Officials Have Responded to the Demonstrations
Canadian officials have generally been steadfast in their calls to end border blockades and protests in Ottawa, although those calls often fall on deaf ears.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated Friday that the demonstrations will stop.
“If you joined the protests because you are fed up with covid, you should understand now that you are breaking the laws,” Trudeau said at a news conference Friday. “You don’t want to lose your driver’s license and get a criminal record, which affects your job, your livelihood.”
The Trudeau government said it will send more officers to protests across the country, adding that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s national police force, continues to act decisively.
CNN’s Miguel Marquez and Kim Berryman reported from Windsor; Jason Hanna wrote in Atlanta. Aya Elamroussi, Paula Newton, Paradise Afshar, Paul P. Murphy, Sharif Paget, Christina Maxouris, Chris Isidore, Lucy Kafanov and Geneva Sands contributed to this report.