A standoff between police and protesting truckers at the US-Canada border has shown so sign of ending, after lasting more than seven hours.
“Freedom Convoy” activists have been at Ambassador Bridge, one of the busiest crossings between the two countries, as part of a demonstration against Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions.
About 20 protesters milled about outside on Saturday morning, while others stayed in their pickup trucks and cars.
Officers started dispersing people early on Saturday after protesters refused to move following a court injunction which gave them until 7pm on Friday to clear out.
Those who did not leave were warned by police that they could be arrested and their vehicles could be seized.
“We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully and peacefully,” Windsor Police said in a Twitter post, asking commuters to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations.
The number of demonstrators had thinned to roughly two dozen early on Saturday from about 200 on Friday night.
State of emergency declared
It comes after a state of emergency was declared in Ontario, meaning people who illegally block roads, bridges, walkways, and other critical infrastructure could be fined $100,000 or serve up to a year in jail.
Drivers have bottled up the bridge connecting Windsor, in Ontario, and Detroit in Michigan, since Monday.
Hundreds more truckers have paralysed downtown Ottawa over the past two weeks and blocked two other border crossings in Alberta and Manitoba.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the decision to declare a state of emergency was “responsible and necessary” and confirmed he had spoken to US President Joe Biden about the matter.
He added that he understands protesters are frustrated by the pandemic but warned that the blockades “are hurting everyday families”.
Copycat convoys head to Paris
Meanwhile, copycat convoys have driven to Paris, France, in protest of COVID restrictions – despite a police ban being in place.
There are no clear leaders or goals, but it comes on the back of months of protests against the French government’s vaccination programme and anti-virus rules.
More than 7,000 police officers were deployed to toll booths and other key sites to try to prevent a blockade and protesters have been warned of heavy fines and other punishment if they defy the ban.