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Freedom Convoy: Police move in on truckers protesting COVID rules at US-Canada border after injunction issued

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Police have moved in on a group of protesting truckers, who have been blocking a key US-Canada border crossing for almost a week.

“Freedom Convoy” activists have been at Ambassador Bridge, one of the busiest crossings between the two countries, as part of a demonstration against Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions.

About 20 protesters milled about outside on Saturday morning, while others stayed in their pickup trucks and cars.

Protesters sing the Canadian national anthem prior to police action to enforce an injunction against a demonstration which has blocked traffic across the Ambassador Bridge by protesters against COVID-19 restrictions, in Windsor, Ont., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
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Protesters sang the Canadian national anthem as police prepared to move them on. Pic: AP

Freedom Convoy: Why are Canadian truckers protesting?

Officers started dispersing people after protesters refused to move following a court injunction which gave them until 7pm on Friday to clear out.

Those who did not leave were warned by police that they could be arrested and their vehicles could be seized.

State of emergency declared

It comes after a state of emergency was declared in Ontario, meaning people who illegally block roads, bridges, walkways, and other critical infrastructure could be fined $100,000 or serve up to a year in jail.

Police move into position to enforce an injunction against a demonstration which has blocked traffic across the Ambassador Bridge by protesters against COVID-19 restrictions, in Windsor, Ont., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
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Police lined up at Ambassador Bridge after a court injunction was passed. Pic: AP

Eyewitness: From a loosely organised convoy of truckers to a resistance movement

Drivers have bottled up the bridge connecting Windsor, in Ontario, and Detroit in Michigan, since Monday.

Hundreds more truckers have paralysed downtown Ottawa over the past two weeks and blocked two other border crossings in Alberta and Manitoba.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the decision to declare a state of emergency was “responsible and necessary” and confirmed he had spoken to US President Joe Biden about the matter.

A protester interacts with police officers, who stand guard on a street after Windsor Police said that they are starting to enforce a court order to clear truckers and supporters who have been protesting against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates by blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
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A protester interacts with police officers

He added that he understands protesters are frustrated by the pandemic but warned that the blockades “are hurting everyday families”.

Copycat convoys head to Paris

Meanwhile, copycat convoys have driven to Paris, France, in protest of COVID restrictions – despite a police ban being in place.

A demonstrator kicks in a tear gas grenade during a protest on the Champs-Elysees avenue, Saturday, Feb.12, 2022 in Paris. Paris police intercepted at least 500 vehicles attempting to enter the French capital in defiance of a police order to take part in protests against virus restrictions inspired by the Canada's horn-honking "Freedom Convoy." . (AP Photo/Adrienne Surprenant)
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Copycat demonstrations have been taking place in Paris. Pic: AP

There are no clear leaders or goals, but it comes on the back of months of protests against the French government’s vaccination programme and anti-virus rules.

More than 7,000 police officers were deployed to toll booths and other key sites to try to prevent a blockade and protesters have been warned of heavy fines and other punishment if they defy the ban.

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