Canada border blockade clearing peacefully as police move in – Associated Press

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Police officers hold a line as protesters against COVID-19 restrictions march in Windsor, Ont., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022.  The demonstrations at the Ambassador Bridge, downtown Ottawa and elsewhere have targeted vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions and vented fury toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has called the protesters a “fringe” of Canadian society.  (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

1 of 18Police officers hold a line as protesters against COVID-19 restrictions march in Windsor, Ont., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. The demonstrations at the Ambassador Bridge, downtown Ottawa and elsewhere have targeted vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions and vented fury toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has called the protesters a “fringe” of Canadian society. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

WINDSOR, Ontario (AP) — Protesters opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other restrictions withdrew their vehicles from a key U.S.-Canadian border bridge Saturday but still blocked access while other demonstrations ramped up in cities across Canada, including the capital, where police said they were awaiting more officers before ending what they described as an illegal occupation.

The tense standoff at the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, eased somewhat early in the day when Canadian police persuaded demonstrators to move the trucks they had used to barricade the entrance to the busy international crossing.

But protesters reconvened nearby — with reinforcements — and were still choking off access from the Canadian side late Saturday, snarling traffic and commerce for a sixth day.

In Ottawa, the ranks of protesters swelled to what police said was 4,000 demonstrators. The city has seen that on past weekends, and loud music played as people milled about downtown where anti-vaccine demonstrators have been encamped since late January.

The protests at the bridge, in Ottawa and elsewhere have reverberated outside the country, with similarly inspired convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that truck convoys may be in the works in the United States.

An ex-Cabinet minister in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government took the unusual step of calling out her former federal colleagues as well as the province and city for not putting an end to the protests.

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