Trucks are gone from Ambassador Bridge, but more protesters arrive on foot

·4 min read

Several hundred demonstrators continue to protest near the Ambassador Bridge, despite a large police presence that initially pushed them back from the entrance.

Around 4:40 p.m., a crew used earth-moving equipment to position concrete barricades across Huron Church Road, which carries traffic to the tollbooths of the bridge. The move seemed to indicate the bridge would not reopen anytime soon.

The barricades were the first moves of the afternoon after a busy morning.

All the pickups and semis that had stayed overnight drove off by midmorning, leaving about 50 protesters on foot. A line of police then pushed them back several hundred yards past College Avenue.

But around noon, new protesters appeared to join them, growing their ranks to several hundred.

Earlier in the morning, Windsor police wearing neon yellow vests over their uniforms appeared to outnumber the remaining protesters and warned them over a public address system that they would be arrested if they didn't leave.

The interactions between the two groups remained calm and there didn't appear to be any arrests yet. One police officer was seen giving hand warmers to children at the protest.

About 8:15 a.m., protesters in pickups left voluntarily honking their horns as they drove away on Huron Church Road. An hour later, the semis pulled out, blasting their air horns as they went. A crowd of people on foot remained.

Anti-mandate protesters stand off with the police on Huron Church Road in Windsor, ON., on Feb. 12, 2022.
Anti-mandate protesters stand off with the police on Huron Church Road in Windsor, ON., on Feb. 12, 2022.

About 9:50 a.m., a line of police began walking slowly toward them, prompting a few more to leave. About 10:15 a.m. dozens more police arrived, flanking the protesters, though the crowd remained calm.

Some protesters danced to music that was playing. Others used their cellphones to shoot photos and video of the protest.

The departures started after additional police arrived about 8:15 a.m. and brought with them a school bus, four other municipal buses and a van labeled "offender transport." Four large pickups with city of Windsor logos on the side also were on the scene.

Some protesters packed up their things. The owners of a large green tent, which had sheltered a propane grill and some food tables, took it down and hauled away the items underneath it.

Two other protesters pushed brooms to clean up debris left in the street. A third one carried a black trash bag to collect the garbage while they chanted, "Clean up, clean up."

Other protesters appeared to be staying put. A man clad in red-and-black checkered flannel waved a Canadian flag attached to a hockey stick. The word "Freedom" was written on the flag. Others sang the Canadian national anthem.

A protester carries a Canadian flag during an anti-mandate protest on Huron Church Road in Windsor, ON., on Feb. 12, 2022.
A protester carries a Canadian flag during an anti-mandate protest on Huron Church Road in Windsor, ON., on Feb. 12, 2022.

"We're still making our point. It's still shut down," said one protester named Dan who wouldn't give his last name. "We're still doing what we set out to do. Just send message to (Canadian Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau and (Ontario Premier Doug) Ford. End the mandates. End the passports and let us live our lives. We're sick and tired of it."

Dan described the protest as "peaceful, friendly and fun-loving."

"If they want to take the next step and turn it into us criminals, racists, misogynists; they are lying through their teeth," he said.

Another protester appeared more militant. He had a Canadian flag draped down his chest and a matching one down his back. He paced in front of stoic police officers, shouting, "Remember who you work for. Be Canadian."

A protester talks to police during an anti-mandate protest on Huron Church Road in Windsor, ON., on Feb. 12, 2022.
A protester talks to police during an anti-mandate protest on Huron Church Road in Windsor, ON., on Feb. 12, 2022.

The protesters spent the night in or near their trucks and emerged Saturday morning to 22-degree temperatures and a throng of media with their cameras pointed at them.

The scene had been mostly quiet in the morning and a nearby McDonald's was busy with people seeking coffee.

More: How truckers at the Ambassador Bridge hurt businesses, sparked protests around the world

More: Judge grants injunction to end Ambassador Bridge trucker blockade

The truckers say they object to Canada's mandate that they must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The protest has shut down the busiest trade crossing between the U.S. and Canada and prompted calls for action from both the White House and Trudeau.

On Friday, a Canadian judge ordered the protesters to clear out or face arrest.

Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or jwisely@freepress.com. On Twitter @jwisely

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Trucks gone from Ambassador Bridge, but more protesters on foot