Canadian police remove the Ambassador Bridge on the sixth day of the protesters’ siege

Canadian police evacuated protesters and vehicles blocking a vital trade route on the US border, and made some arrests, but the bridge did not yet open to traffic on Sunday.

The officers acted after a tense standoff between Canadian police and protesters since Friday when a court order and threats of arrest failed to end the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, which entered its sixth day on Sunday.

“Enforcement actions continue in the demonstration area with arrests being made. Vehicles towing. Please continue to avoid the area,” Windsor Police said in a tweet on Twitter early Sunday, without specifying the number of those arrested.

Police beefed up their presence with more than 50 vehicles including cruisers, buses and an armored car on Sunday, with the number of protesters dropping to about 45 from about 100 on Saturday.

“There will be zero tolerance for any illegal activity,” Windsor Police wrote on Twitter.

US President Joe Biden has asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use federal authorities to end the blockade of the bridge, the busiest land crossing in North America. Since Monday, protesters in trucks, cars and vans have blocked traffic in both directions, choking the supply chain for Detroit automakers.

Police moved in early Saturday morning, pushing the protesters to retreat from under the bridge, but more people poured into the area in the afternoon and the operation appeared to have stalled.

“I remain hopeful that the police can … try to reach these people in a reasonable way and make them understand that it is time to move on,” Windsor Mayor Drew Delkins told CBC News. “We as a country can no longer keep it closed.”

The bridge carries approximately $360 million per day in two-way freight – 25% of the value of all merchandise trade between the United States and Canada.

Protests in four provinces The “Freedom Caravan” protests, started by Canadian truck drivers in the capital, Ottawa, entered their 17th day on Sunday. But it has now turned into a rallying point against broader COVID-19 restrictions, a carbon tax and other issues, with people in cars, vans and farm vehicles joining in.

Protests erupted in several cities in Canada on Saturday, with some 4,000 people taking part in downtown Ottawa. The financial capital, Toronto, housed about 1,000 protesters, although the main roads leading into the central business district were closed by police.

In the west, hundreds of protesters choked intersections along the Pacific Highway with vehicles leading to the Canada-US border crossing in southern Surrey, British Columbia. Many, set up near the border crossing, vowed to stay “as long as needed” until all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Bilateral trade stifled, and protests spread to three border points, including in Alberta and Manitoba.

Canadian police said the protests were partly funded by US supporters, and Ontario froze funds donated via Jeff Sindjo’s US platform on Thursday.

Ford Motor Co., the second largest automaker in the United States, General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. have announced production cuts. Companies diverted shipments to reduce losses during the cuts.

The estimated loss so far from the auto industry blockades alone could be as high as $850 million, based on IHS Markit data, which puts the daily flow of vehicles and parts for 2021 at $141.1 million per day.

“This is the busiest border crossing, so it’s not just cars,” Mayor Delkins said. “We’re talking about things that affect the entire nation here. That’s why finding a solution is so important.”

(Reuters)

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