Canadian police clash with protesters blocking bridge to US By Reuters

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©Reuters. A man reacts as truckers and supporters continue to block access to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, in protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, February 11 2022. REUTERS/Carlo

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By Kayla Tarnowski and Carlos Osorio

WINDSOR, Ontario (Reuters) – Canadian police made the first arrest of a protester blocking a key bridge into the United States on Saturday, more than a day after authorities moved to try to end the blockade of the major trade corridor. .

Protesters opposing government pandemic restrictions have occupied the Ambassador Bridge for the fifth day in a row, disrupting international trade and prompting President Joe Biden to call for an end to the siege. But there was still no sign of when traffic would resume.

On Saturday night, Windsor police arrested a 27-year-old man on a criminal charge related to the rally.

While police managed to push protesters back from the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit and Windsor, more people were pouring into the area and the operation appeared to have stalled.

As the afternoon wore on, some Canadians questioned what was behind the delay, ahead of a court order issued Friday to end the lockdown and the imposition of a state of emergency declared by Ontario authorities.

“Essentially, it would send a message that the state cannot retain control, where it tries to,” Michael Kempa, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, told CBC News.

“The longer this goes on, the longer people have the idea that what they are doing is not an illegal protest,” he said.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest land border crossing in North America. Since Monday, protesters in trucks, cars and vans have blocked traffic in both directions, choking off the supply chain https://www.reuters.com/world/us/gm-cancels-two-shifts-lansing-plant- following-canadian-trucking-protests-2022-02-10 for Detroit automakers.

The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started in the capital Ottawa by Canadian truckers who oppose a vaccination or quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered their 16th day on Saturday. It has morphed into a broader protest https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/how-ottawas-anti-vaccine-mandate-protests-are-spreading-globally-2022-02-09 against COVID restrictions -19, with people joining with smaller vehicles, including cars, vans, and vans.

During a meeting of his top advisers on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed that border crossings cannot and will not remain closed, and that all options remain on the table, according to a reading issued by his office.

Early on Saturday, Windsor police urged protesters to act lawfully and peacefully. Officers in black uniforms and yellow vests moved behind the protesters’ vehicles and, accompanied by police patrols, slowly advanced towards the protesters, pushing them back from the bridge entrance.

ESCALATION OF PROTESTS IN OTTAWA

The number of protesters had dwindled to about two dozen early Saturday from around 200 late Friday.

“We are opening this intersection to traffic. If you do not comply with our instructions, you will be arrested,” police told the crowd through a loudspeaker.

Protesters backed off in a noisy but peaceful retreat, dismantling tents and barbecues. But since then, police have made no progress, witnesses said. Concrete barricades have been erected in front of police near the Ambassador Bridge to prevent protesters from regaining ground.

Some 4,000 protesters gathered in downtown Ottawa on Saturday, with some toppling a fence that had been erected around the National War Memorial. Ottawa police have established a new command center made up of federal and provincial police to respond to the escalation.

The protests have spread to other border points, including two smaller crossings in Alberta and Manitoba and the Pacific Highway border crossing in British Columbia, strangling trade between the two countries.

Canadian police have said the protests have been funded in part by US supporters and Ontario froze funds donated through a US platform, GiveSendGo, on Thursday.

Toronto-Dominion Bank has frozen two personal bank accounts in which 1.4 million Canadian dollars ($1.1 million) had been deposited in support of the protesters.

The protests have inspired similar convoys and plans in the United States, France, New Zealand and Australia.

In Paris, French police fired tear gas https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/police-stop-50-vehicles-heading-paris-protest-convoy-2022-02-12 against protesters on avenue Champs Elysees on Saturday shortly after a convoy carrying protesters against COVID-19 restrictions arrived in the capital.

Ford, the second largest US automaker, General Motors (NYSE:) and Toyota Motor (NYSE:) Co has announced production cuts. Companies have shifted the load to contain losses amid production cuts.

The estimated loss from lockdowns to the auto industry alone could reach $700 million, according to data from IHS Markit, which puts the daily flow in vehicles and parts at $141.1 million per day in 2021.



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