PROTESTERS have been slow to leave the Ambassador Bridge between the US and Canada and police have started clearing the “Freedom Convoy” demonstration that has delayed international trade and halted traffic.
Windsor Police tweeted that people are advised to leave the area immediately and “individuals who are located within the demonstration area are subject to arrest,” but some groups “voted” to stay in place and have been receding gradually.
This comes after President Joe Biden urged the Canadian government to end ongoing trucker protests along the border, as analysts warn the “Freedom Convoy” could impact Super Bowl on Sunday.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he spoke with Biden on Friday about “illegal blockades at the border.”
“I updated him on the situation, and we discussed the American and global influence on the protests,” Trudeau tweeted.
“We agreed that, for the security of people and our economies, these blockades cannot continue.”
A DHS bulletin sent to local and state officials warned that truck drivers planning a convoy in the United States would “potentially begin in California as early as mid-February and arrive in Washington, DC, as late as mid-March.”
Read our trucker protest live blog for the latest news and updates…
Supporters defy rules to supply fuel
In Ottawa, supporters of the “Freedom Convoy” brought cans of fuel to the truck drivers forming the blockades.
On Saturday, an occupation outside of Parliament Hill became an unofficial collection point for cans of fuel.
The rush of support came after providing fuel to the drivers was apparently outlawed.
Three US points of entry blocked
According to The Hill, protesters have blocked three entry points between the United States and Canada.
The Emerson Port of Entry connects Manitoba to North Dakota.
The Ambassador Bridge goes from Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Canada.
And finally, Coutts Border Crossing goes from Montana to Alberta, Canada.
The occupations have blocked border crossings for several days.
Teamsters Canada statement, continued
“We firmly believe in the right to protest government policies and voice a wide array of opinions, but what is happening in Ottawa has done more harm to Teamsters members, be they Truck Drivers who were trying to deliver their loads, or hotel, restaurant and healthcare workers who were intimidated, abused or prevented from accessing their workplaces, by several protesters,” the statement continued.
“Teamsters Canada would welcome collaboration with government and employers to address today’s real challenges in the trucking industry to keep the supply chain going and Canada’s economy growing.”
“We join in the calls urging those protesters with legitimate concerns to go back to their own communities and work with local politicians.”
“We are all frustrated and want our lives back, however, let’s ensure we get there respectfully, safely, and protect the health of our most vulnerable first.”
Teamsters Canada disavows convoy
François Laporte, the president of Teamsters Canada, a trade union that represents over 55,000 drivers that include 15,000 long-haul truckers, released a statement about the protests on February 7 on the organization’s website.
“Teamsters Canada is proud to represent over 55,000 professional drivers from diverse industries across the country, approximately 15,000 of which are long haul truck drivers, 90% of whom are vaccinated,” the statement began.
“The so-called ‘freedom convoy’ and the despicable display of hate lead by the political Right and shamefully encouraged by elected conservative politicians does not reflect the values of Teamsters Canada, nor the vast majority of our members, and in fact has served to delegitimize the real concerns of most truck drivers today.”
Ambassador Bridge sees 10,000 trucks per day
According to the Public Border Operations Association, the Ambassador Bridge carries between 60 and 70 percent of commercial truck traffic in the Detroit/Ontario area.
On an average day, the bridge sees 10,000 trucks.
Convoy convenes in Port Huron, Michigan
On the US side of the border, truckers gathered Saturday underneath the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan.
It’s unclear how many demonstrators have assembled at the site, but footage shared to Twitter shows vehicles honking, protesters with American flags, and plenty of handmade signs decrying Covid safety mandates.
‘Another wrench in the industry’
The protest has reportedly led to some shipping delays as trucks have to travel to other locations to cross the border.
A delay of even five hours, for instance, can cause production disruptions because factories are running low on part supplies with a supply chain that is already dealing with problems, the Associated Press noted, citing Jeff Schuster, president of the LMC Automotive consulting firm in Troy, Michigan.
“Everything is so ‘just-in-time’ these days,” he said.
“We’re still dealing with parts shortages in general and supply chain issues. This is just another wrench in the industry that we’re dealing with right now.”
Protest could impact Super Bowl, continued
“The convoy will potentially begin in California as early as mid-February and arrive in Washington, DC, as late as mid-March, potentially impacting the Super Bowl LVI scheduled for 13 February and the State of the Union Address scheduled for 1 March,” the bulletin said.
The warning states that “the convoy could severely disrupt transportation, federal government, and law enforcement operations through gridlock and potential counterprotests,” Yahoo News reported.
Protest could impact Super Bowl
Trucker protests across the country could impact the biggest day of the year for many Americans – Super Bowl Sunday, which is coming up this weekend.
A DHS bulletin sent to local and state officials warned of “truck drivers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers”, according to Yahoo News.
Trump’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ support, continued
“This is unacceptable and extremely dangerous in any country that values free expression,” Trump added in the statement.
“TruthSocial is announcing today that we are welcoming the Freedom Convoy with open arms to communicate freely on TruthSocial when we launch – coming very soon! TruthSocial will fight back against Big Tech so we can protect our rights to free expression.”
He ended the statement with a jab at Facebook, writing, “Also, on top of everything, it is big news that Facebook daily users went down for the first time ever, people are tired of biased social media like Twitter and Facebook, and it’s showing in their numbers!”
Trump’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ support
Former President Donald Trump released a statement supporting the “Freedom Convoy” on February 4.
“Facebook and Big Tech are seeking to destroy the Freedom Convoy of Truckers,” he began.
“The Freedom Convoy is peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates.”
“Now, thankfully, the Freedom Convoy could be coming to DC with American Truckers who want to protest Biden’s ridiculous Covid policies.”
He also claimed that Facebook is “canceling” the Freedom Convoy USA accounts, and added in the statement that GoFundMe is “denying access to funds that belong to the Freedom Convoy.”
Ottawa Police establish Integrated Command Centre
The Ottawa Police Service announced an Integrated Command Centre (ICC) in conjunction with the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to battle the ongoing Ottawa protester occupation.
“In downtown Ottawa, over 4,000 demonstrators were present throughout the day,” a statement from the Ottawa Police Service read.
“Safety concerns – arising from aggressive, illegal behaviour by many demonstrators – limited police enforcement capabilities.”
Police expect the ICC will result in “a significantly enhanced ability of our police service to respond to the current situation in our city.”
What are the protestors calling for?
Protesters that are part of the “Freedom Convoy” have said they will not leave until all vaccine mandates and Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, according to the Associated Press.
The daily protests put on by the “Freedom Truck Convoy” are centered in Ottawa, Canada.
Some organizers have also been calling for weeks for the removal of Justin Trudeau’s government.
Trudeau: ‘It’s time to go home’
On Friday, Justin Trudeau spoke to the media and addressed protesters.
“The blockades are hurting small businesses and neighborhoods,” Trudeau said.
“The border cannot and will not remain closed. Everything is on the table because this unlawful activity has to end, and it will end.
“We’ve heard your frustration with Covid, with the measures that are there to keep people safe.
“We’ve heard you. It’s time to go home now.”
US protesters plan solidarity movement on Facebook
Some of the protestors for the upcoming demonstrations in the United States are organizing on social media networks like Facebook, according to Politico.
“Our brothers and sisters of the highway succeeded in opening Canadians’ eyes about the unconstitutional mandates and hardships forced onto their people,” organizers of The People’s Convoy event said on their Facebook page.
“Now it’s time for the citizens of the United States of America to unite and demand restoration of our constitutional rights.”
The page has almost 70,000 members.
One convoy planning group refutes Super Bowl rally rumor
While American and Canadian officials have warned the “Freedom Convoy” may impact US commerce and life in the near future, a group of protest organizers tried to refute one rumor.
Justin Ling, an investigative journalist, shared a statement from one convoy planning group.
“It has come to our attention that there is a rumor stating that there will be a rally of some kind at, or around the upcoming Superbowl,” the statement reads.
“To our knowledge, there are NO plans to this affect (sic) and this is simply a rumor,” it continues.
GiveSendGo claims funds aren’t frozen
A court injunction allowed government officials to freeze monetary assets being sent to “Freedom Convoy” protesters through crowd-funding websites like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo.
However, on Saturday, GiveSendGo posted a cryptic statement to Twitter saying that the funds are “not frozen contrary to what you might be hearing on the news.”
The organization claims to be using workarounds to find “the most effective legal ways to continue funds flowing.”
Businesses in Ottawa face protest surges
According to Creeson Agecoutay, a CTV News Parliamentary Correspondent in Ottawa, one local grocery store closed its doors on Saturday because workers feel “uneasy” surrounded by the protests.
Other businesses reportedly face floods of maskless patrons.
Vehicle blockade remains near Emerson
At Emerson, Manitoba, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are still trying to disperse a border blockade.
The vehicles began arriving Wednesday morning, blocking the entry point into North Dakota.
Protesters party at Parliament Hill
At Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa, the seat of Canada’s federal legislature, protesters set up bouncy castles, hot tubs and stages.
The site has also become a fuel dropoff point, where cans of gas for truckers are being collected despite government orders.
Protestors reportedly attacked, continued
Police noted that the Headingly, Manitoba, resident faces several charges including four for assault with a weapon for the alleged attack.
It’s unclear what the driver’s motive was, but Carver said “He wasn’t really for or against either of the general views.”
“Some comments he made after his arrest suggested that his motivation was not specifically about the underlying causes of the protests or the mandates,” said Carver.
Protesters were reportedly attacked in Canada
Shocking footage captured the moment a driver allegedly plowed into a crowd of Freedom Convoy protesters, injuring four before fleeing the scene.
The 42-year-old was arrested after allegedly driving at speed into demonstrators at the Manitoba Legislature grounds on Friday, February 4, according to Canadian authorities.
“A 42yr old male is facing charges after driving through a group of protesters that were part of the Freedom Convoy at the Legislative grounds,” the Winnipeg Police tweeted on Saturday. “4 adult males were struck.”
The suspect, driving a Jeep Patriot, was chased down by police and arrested after he tried to flee.
“(The vehicle) was moving at a pretty decent clip and it’s pretty miraculous that nobody sustained any serious injuries,” said police spokesperson Rob Carver on Saturday as reported by the Winnipeg Sun.
Three of the injured protesters did not need medical attention, and a fourth was released after being treated at the hospital.
Gov Whitmer calls for end to blockade, continued
“Our communities and automotive, manufacturing, and agriculture businesses are feeling the effects. It’s hitting paychecks and production lines. That is unacceptable,” Gov Whitmer added in the lengthy statement.
“The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest land border crossing in North America, used by tens of thousands of commuters and truck drivers carrying hundreds of millions of dollars of goods every day.”
“Countless Michiganders rely on this daily flow of goods and people to get things done.”
“It is imperative that Canadian local, provincial, and national governments de-escalate this economic blockade. They must take all necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic so we can continue growing our economy, supporting good-paying jobs, and lowering costs for families.”
Gov Whitmer calls for end to blockade
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called on Canadian authorities to shut down the blockade on the Canadian side of the Ambassador Bridge in a statement released on Thursday.
“In Michigan, our economy continues to grow because of our hardworking people and innovative small businesses. Now, that momentum is at risk.”
“Commercial traffic is at a standstill at the Ambassador Bridge and heavily backed up at the Blue Water Bridge,” she added. “The blockade is having a significant impact on Michigan’s working families who are just trying to do their jobs.”
Trudeau’s tweets, conclusion
Trudeau also set forth a bipartisan call to take parliamentary action against the blockades.
“Finally, I briefed the leaders of the opposition parties on the current situation and the latest developments.
“I stressed how important it is for all Members of Parliament, from every party, to denounce these illegal acts – and to call for an end to these blockades,” the Prime Minister concluded.