Bridge blocked by anti-vaccine mandate protests now reopened, officials say

Thousands of frustrated truckers have been protesting against COVID-19 mandates.

February 14, 2022, 11:09 AM

The bridge in Canada where thousands of semitruck drivers camped out in a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates has reopened, according to officials.

The blockade of commercial trailers on the Ambassador Bridge, which connects the city of Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan, ended peacefully Sunday with no violence after police described many protesters exhibiting "aggressive, illegal behavior" on Saturday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told ABC News.

The bridge reopened late Sunday night, the Detroit International Bridge Company announced.

"Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador bridge came to an end," Dilkens wrote in a statement. "Border crossings will reopen when it is safe to do so and I defer to police and border agencies to make that determination."

PHOTO: Truck drivers and others protest COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Ottawa, Ontario, on, Feb. 12, 2022.
Truck drivers and others protest COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Ottawa, Ontario, on, Feb. 12, 2022.
Ted Shaffrey/AP

On Saturday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police and Ottawa Police Service responded to the volatile scene on Saturday, where several hundred protesters planted themselves about 100 feet from the foot of the entry to the bridge, even as all of the trucks left the scene throughout the day in the face of a police crackdown.

A judge had ordered Friday that the protesters disperse after the demonstrations interrupted the flow of goods between the two countries, especially crippling the auto industry on both sides of the border. Truckers were re-routed to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

Between 25 and 30 people were arrested on criminal mischief charges on Saturday, Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno announced.

PHOTO: Police gather to clear protestors against Covid-19 vaccine mandates who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on Feb. 13, 2022.
Police gather to clear protestors against Covid-19 vaccine mandates who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on Feb. 13, 2022.
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Dilkens wrote that while the nation of Canada "believes in the right to freedom of speech and expression," those exercising those rights must also abide by the law.

"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," Dilkens said. "Illegal acts, blockades and hate speech must not be tolerated and should be denounced."

Thousands of truckers have been protesting the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for weeks as part of what is being called the "Freedom Convoy." The number of demonstrators reached as many as 4,000 over the weekend.

The protests began in Canada's capital city last month after truckers began protesting the requirement for them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to cross the U.S.-Canada border.

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security warned there was a probability that some trucker protests could happen Sunday near Inglewood, California, where Super Bowl LVI is to take place. However, the DHS, which also acknowledged online chatter about truckers traveling from California to Washington, D.C., to protest, said the planned demonstration appears to be "purely aspirational" because it is only being discussed online.

ABC News' Luke Barr, Nadine El-Bawab, Matt Foster, Elwyn Lopez and Ivan Pereira contributed to this report.

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