Ambassador Bridge blockade: Windsor mayor says 'national economic crisis' is over, bridge reopened

Windsor police were arresting protesters near the Ambassador Bridge on Sunday to bring the days-long protest to an end.

"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 in a statement Sunday morning.

Police said just before 3 p.m. that they were still handling demonstrators on Tecumseh Road West in between Northway and Huron Church Road. Traffic has since resumed over the bridge. 

"This is a win for Michigan’s working families who are just trying to do their jobs and for businesses who can get back to shipping their products and produce. It’s time to get traffic and trade moving across North America’s busiest land border crossing again," said Gov. Whitmer. "I will always stand with every hardworking Michigander and do whatever it takes to ensure that our businesses can keep humming along."

Police removed demonstrators Saturday after a judge issued an injunction ordering protesters to stop blocking the international bridge. Trucks and other vehicles have been parked near the bridge since Monday in protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Canada. Vehicles were removed Saturday morning, but people returned on foot later.

More: Windsor police removing protesters from Ambassador Bridge

Protesters continued to block traffic as of early Sunday. Vehicles were also being towed Sunday, police said.

"There will be zero tolerance for illegal activity," Windsor police said in a tweet advising the public to avoid the area. 

Police also said that business owners in the area wanted the protesters to remove their vehicles from their private property.

The protest, though peaceful, has caused disruptions to the supply chain and trade by preventing goods from moving between the United States and Canada. Protesters have previously said they don't plan to leave until mandates are lifted.

Statement from Windsor police:

"Throughout this demonstration, Police have respected the protesters' freedom of expression and their right to a peaceful assembly. The importance of public safety remained the number one priority of officers with the goal being a peaceful resolution. Remaining committed to professionalism, keeping lines of communication open and using proper  police discretion, guided our response to this major event.

"The Windsor Police Service along with policing partners used a progressive approach by ensuring open lines of communication and continuous negotiations with protestors. During these negotiations, demonstrators were made aware that their actions were illegal and subject to arrest, specifically that they could be charged with mischief. 

"We also recognize the rights of the general public, local residents and businesses to a safe environment. Police used discretion during the course of the demonstration to avoid creating an unstable situation and potentially putting the public at risk. This exercising of police discretion should not be confused with lack of enforcement.  

"On Sunday, February 13, 2022, police at the demonstration site engaged protesters for the purpose of continued enforcement and several arrests were made. The arrested persons are all facing a charge of mischief.  Multiple vehicles within the demonstration area were also seized. 

"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."

Statement from Mayor Drew Dilkens:

"Friday evening, the City of Windsor and our partners – the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association and the Ontario Attorney General were successful in obtaining a time-limited injunction as a means towards ending the 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. 

"I want to offer my sincere thanks to all law enforcement personnel involved for their determined, yet compassionate approach to the occupation.

"I also want to thank the residents of Windsor who were impacted by this protest and respected the process needed to find a resolution. 

"Canada is nation that believes in the right to freedom of speech and expression, but we are also bound by the rule of law.

"Elected leaders, myself included, will be judged in the fullness of time on how we responded to the COVID-19 public health crisis. As the virus mutates, our response has, and must continue to evolve.

"As Canadians, there is more that unites us, than divides us and we must all find the resolve to approach those who hold different views with tolerance and respect.
Illegal acts, blockades and hate speech must not be tolerated and should be denounced.

"As Mayor of Windsor, I strongly urge all Provincial and Federal leaders to refrain from any divisive political rhetoric and redouble efforts to help all Canadians heal, as we emerge from almost two years of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions."