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Police make final arrests of protesters at US-Canada Bridge

WINDSOR, Ontario – Police moved in to clear and arrest the remaining protesters near the busiest US-Canada border on Sunday, ending a protest against the COVID-19 restrictions that have plagued the country. hurt the economies of both countries even as they stifled their crackdown on a larger protest in the capital, Ottawa.

Local and national police have set up a joint command center in Ottawa, where protests have paralyzed downtown, angering residents who are fed up with police inaction. and put pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Protests have reverberated across the country and beyond, with similar convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The US Department of Homeland Security warns that vans convoys may be operating in the United States.

Windsor Police said about 12 people were peacefully arrested and seven cars were damaged drag just after dawn near the Ambassador Bridge that connects their city – and many of Canada’s auto factories – with Detroit.

It is not yet clear when the bridge will be open to traffic, but Mayor Drew Kiklens of Windsor said he hopes it will be Sunday.

“Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge is over,” he added later. “Border crossings will reopen when it is deemed safe, and I defer to the police and border agencies to make such a decision.”

Only a handful of protesters have stayed after police on Saturday persuaded protesters to move pickup truck and other vehicles they used to block the intersection account for 25% of total trade between the two countries.

In Ottawa, the ranks of protesters grew to what police said were 4,000 protesters on Saturday, and a protest by frustrated Ottawa residents tried to block the convoy of trucks from entering the city center. took place on Sunday.

The city saw a similar expansion of protests last weekend and loud music was played as people flocked downtown, where anti-vaccination protesters had besieged since late January.

“The whole city was furious to be abandoned by those who were supposed to protect us. They have completely abandoned the rule of law. @OttawaPolice has been discredited. #OttawaPoliceFailed,” tweeted Artur Wilczynski, a senior government national security official at Canada’s Communications Security Facility.

A former minister in Trudeau’s Cabinet also criticized her former federal colleagues as well as the province and city for not ending the protests.

“Surprisingly, this is not just Ottawa. It’s the nation’s capital,” tweeted Catherine McKenna. “But no one – not the city, the province or the federal government seems to be able to work together to end this illegal occupation. So terrible. … Just take your actions together. Now.”

Trudeau has so far declined calls to use militarybut did say “all options are on the table” to end the protests. Trudeau has called the protesters “the fringes” of Canadian society. Both federal and provincial politicians say they cannot dictate what police should do.

Ottawa Police said in a statement late Saturday that a joint command center had been established with the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mount Police. It said it would strengthen enforcement, which is constrained by “safety concerns – arising from the aggressive, illegal behavior of many protesters.”

Police earlier issued a statement calling the protests an illegal occupation and said they were waiting for reinforcements before implementing a plan to end the protests.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency last week for the capital, where hundreds of trucks remained parked in front of Parliament House and protesters set up portable toilets outside the defense office. Prime Minister, where Prime Minister Trudeau’s motorcade usually stops.

On Friday, a judge ordered an end to the blockade at the intersection of Windsor and Ontario Premier Doug Ford declare a state of emergency authorizing fines of C$100,000 and up to one year in prison for anyone illegally blocking roads, bridges, walkways and other critical infrastructure.

The partial closure at the bridge began on February 7, and by midweek, the disruption was so severe that automakers began shutting down or reducing production. The standstill comes at a time when the industry is struggling to maintain production in the face of pandemic-induced computer chip shortages and other supply chain disruptions.

Eunice Lucas-Logan, of Windsor, said: “We are protesting against the government taking away our rights. “We want the restrictions to be removed. We have to wait to find out.”

The 67-year-old has been out supporting protests for the past four days. She said she appreciated that the police had been patient.

In Ottawa, Stephanie Ravensbergen, 31, said she has supported her aunt and uncle, who have parked their carts on the street since the protests began. She opposes the requirements for vaccines and masks, and says it’s important for students to be able to see their friends’ faces and emotions.

“We wanted to have a choice,” Ravensbergen said. “We want the right to do what everyone else can do.”

On the other side of the country, a large truck border between Surrey, British Columbia and Blaine, Washington, was closed on Sunday, a day after Canadian authorities said several vehicles breached the fence. police and a crowd walking into the area. .

The RCMP released a statement saying that although no one was injured, the actions were dangerous and are being investigated.

A border crossing in Alberta was also closed.

While protesters decry vaccine regulations for truckers and other COVID-19 restrictions, many of Canada’s public health measures, such as mask-wearing and protective Vaccines to enter restaurants and theatres, were no longer available when omicron levels spiked.

Pandemic restrictions there are much stricter than in the US, but Canadians have largely supported them. The vast majority of Canadians are immunized, and the death rate from COVID-19 is one-third that of the United States.

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