Updated 9:40 p.m. ET with comments from Windsor Police Chief Pamela Mizuno
Updated 2:30 p.m. ET with comments from White House Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall
Demonstrations blocking the Ambassador Bridge connecting Canada and the U.S. have been cleared.
Windsor Police and others are seeking to restore traffic flows, said Windsor Police Chief Pamela Mizuno during a press conference Sunday.
Mizuno also said 25 to 30 arrests were made and five vehicles were seized on Sunday, and seven vehicles were towed on Saturday. She was not aware of any injuries resulting from interactions between police and protesters.
Earlier Sunday, government officials and local police forces expressed hope that Sunday’s efforts to remove demonstrators who were blocking the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit would restore the flow of vehicles after the almost weeklong blockade.
“Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end. Border crossings will reopen when it is safe to do so and I defer to police and border agencies to make that determination,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said Sunday in a release.
White House Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall said in a Sunday statement that Canadian federal officials had told their U.S. counterparts of plans to reopen the bridge on Sunday.
“Canadian authorities are taking proactive steps to ensure no further unlawful disruption of the flow of people and goods occurs. Individuals trespassing on property located on the road to the bridge will be cited for trespassing and their vehicles will be towed,” Sherwood-Randall said. “Canadian authorities intend to reopen the Ambassador Bridge today after completing necessary safety checks. We stand ready to support our Canadian partners wherever useful in order to ensure the restoration of the normal free flow of commerce can resume.”
The Ambassador Bridge blockade, which began last Monday, has been part of a wave of protests that were initially in response to vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers, which took effect in January. Protesters are now demanding an end to all COVID-19-related restrictions in Canada.
But a judge granted an injunction Friday allowing local police to remove the protesters at the bridge following a petition from the city of Windsor and two automotive groups. Earlier in the day, the province of Ontario declared a state of emergency in response to the protest at the Ambassador Bridge and the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.
To avoid the Ambassador Bridge, trucks have been detouring to alternate border crossings including the Blue Water Bridge and Peace Bridge, adding hours of delays.
On Sunday morning, Windsor police said they had started to arrest protesters, charging them with mischief, and had seized multiple vehicles involved in the demonstration. The police took these actions while also seeking to negotiate with protesters.
“You will see a continued police presence in the area in order to maintain an environment that is safe. In an effort to work towards resuming traffic flow, a continuous assessment of the situation is vital to ensure a sustainable solution,” Windsor police said in a Sunday update.
In a Sunday tweet, the police said, “Enforcement is continuing in the demonstration area and there will be zero tolerance for illegal activity. The public should avoid the area.”
On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said protesters at the Ambassador Bridge and in parts of Ottawa as part of the Freedom Convoy could face heavy consequences including fines, jail time and the loss of CDLs.
FreightWaves reporter Nate Tabak contributed to this report.
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