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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:
\u201cPolice have not moved protesters for hours and it's unclear why. \n\nReporters on the ground describe the scene as a street party. Lots of people are milling about and chatting, waving various flags.\n\nNo arrests have been reported today.\u201d— Taylor Campbell (@Taylor Campbell) 1644686812
"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.
\u201cI\u2019m stepping away for a bit everyone. My colleagues continue to be on the ground. \n\nIt\u2019s turning into another block party atmosphere despite the elevated police presence and police line being held.\n\nYou can follow @EMauroCBC, @thomasdaigle @NouemsiNjike.\u201d— Katerina Georgieva (@Katerina Georgieva) 1644698093
National correspondent Thomas Daigle, with CBC News, tweeted:
\u201c6 hours after police moved in to clear the Ambassador Bridge blockade, 200 protesters are staying put. Officers are allowing them to come and go as they wish.\u201d— Thomas Daigle (@Thomas Daigle) 1644693490
"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."
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.
\u201cEnforcement continuing, individuals who are located within the demonstration area are subject to arrest. People are advised to immediately vacate the area.\u201d— Windsor Police (@Windsor Police) 1644681351
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.
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":
\u201cDespite the police surrounding them and slowly moving closer, a few dozen Windsor protesters are still just standing around, vowing to \u201chold the line\u201d\u201d— Thomas Daigle (@Thomas Daigle) 1644674084
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.