WINDSOR, Ontario — Police moved in to clear and arrest the remaining protesters near the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing on Sunday, ending a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions that has hurt the economy of both nations even as they held back from a crackdown on a larger protest in the capital, Ottawa.
Local and national police formed a joint command center in Ottawa, where protests have paralyzed downtown, infuriated residents who are fed up with police inaction and turned up pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The protests have reverberated across the country and beyond, with similar convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that truck convoys may be in the works in the United States.
Windsor police said about 12 people were peacefully arrested and seven vehicles were towed just after dawn near the Ambassador Bridge that links their city — and numerous Canadian automotive plants — with Detroit.
“Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end,” said Windsor’s Mayor Drew Dilkens, who expressed hope the bridge would reopen Sunday. “Border crossings will reopen when it is safe to do so and I defer to police and border agencies to make that determination.
But the bridge remained closed late Sunday afternoon as a snowstorm hit the area.
Only a few protesters had remained after police on Saturday persuaded demonstrators to move the pickup trucks and cars they had used to block a crossing that sees 25% of all trade between the two countries.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Sunday acknowledged the seemingly peaceful resolution to the demonstration, which it said had “widespread damaging impacts” on the “lives and livelihoods of people” on both sides of the border.
“We stand ready to support our Canadian partners wherever useful in order to ensure the restoration of the normal free flow of commerce can resume,” Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall said in a statement.
In Ottawa, the ranks of protesters swelled to what…