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Police clear demonstrators near the US border

Canadian police deploy on February 12, 2022, to move protesters blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge demanding an end to government Covid-19 mandates, in Windsor, Ontario. The bridge on the U.S. border has been snarled for days by truckers protesting against vaccination rules. (Photo:Geoff Robins / AFP via Getty Images)

Police Effort to End Anti-Vax Blockade in Canada Results in 'Block Party Atmosphere'

A militarized show of force was on display early in the day to confront protesters who had snarled traffic and blocked the key trade crossing in Windsor, Ontario.

Jon Queally

This is a developing story... Check back for possible updates...

An effort to end the blockade and disperse protesters fully from the area appeared to stall Saturday afternoon as police chose not to arrest demonstrators even as the initial encampment maintained by those opposed to Covid-19 public health rules was cleared.

As journalist Taylor Campbell, part of the Windsor Star reporting team, tweeted just after 3:30 pm ET:

"It's like it's turned into a street party this afternoon," tweeted another Star reporter. "Tables have been set up on Huron Church for refreshments. Police haven't moved in several hours."

While no arrests were reported, and the stand-off between law enforcement and protests remained relatively peaceful, Campell subsequently reported that police were ticketing and towing vehicles that remained in the protest area.

National correspondent Thomas Daigle, with CBC News, tweeted:

"It’s not clear whether Windsor police have a strategy to make the crowd disperse but more and more protesters are arriving," Daigle added. "Earlier, officers outnumbered protesters but that does not appear to be the case anymore."

Earlier...

Police in Windsor, Ontario mobilized Saturday morning to clear right-wing demonstrators opposed to public health measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic from a bridge at the nation's border with the United States in order to end a dayslong blockade that brought traffic to a standstill and disrupted international trade.

"We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully," police in Windsor, Ontario, home to the Ambassador Bridge, tweeted in announcing the deployment just after 8:00 am local time. The police said they were initiating enforcement of an injunction issued Friday by a judge in Ottawa who said complete blockage of the bridge "cannot be tolerated."

As of 11:00 am, police had compressed protesters into a smaller area for what one reporter on the scene described as a "stand off" as law enforcement threatened to tow vehicles or arrest individuals that did not leave voluntarily from places blocking the flow of traffic.

Earlier, local reporter Katerina Georgieva, with CBC Windsor News at 6, was posting video clips from the scene at the bridge as the police moved into to clear the area.

Shortly later, Georgieva posted additional videos showing demonstrators moving some of their vehicles and dismantling portions of an encampment, including a cooking area and other structures.

As some demonstrators sang the Canadian national anthem and waved flags, the police slowing walked them away from the area where they had been blocking the road:

Subsequently, additional forces with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrived and a large military assault vehicle was also dispatched:

It did not appear the police were met with significant resistance, but while some in the small group left voluntarily a smaller contingent vowed to "hold the line":

One demonstrator, Chris Mayville, who spoke to the CBC said that he would not be deterred after hearing about Friday's injunction.

"Bring it," Mayville told the CBC. "Do you think I care? Do you think I care about a fine? I'm going to pay a fine? No. You think I care about their mandates? No. This needs to end."

"I'm going to stay until the arrests," he said.


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