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Ambassador Bridge reopens after police clear protesters

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Kate Wells
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The busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing reopened late Sunday night after protests against COVID-19 restrictions closed it for almost a week.

Detroit International Bridge Co. said in a statement that “the Ambassador Bridge is now fully open allowing the free flow of commerce between the Canada and US economies once again.” Esther Jentzen, spokeswoman for the company, said in a later text to The Associated Press that the bridge reopened to traffic at 11 p.m. EST.

The crossing normally carries 25% of all trade between the two countries, and the blockade on the Canadian side had disrupted business in both countries, with automakers forced to shut down several assembly plants.

Police in Windsor, Ontario, said earlier in the day that more than two dozen people had been peacefully arrested, seven vehicles towed and five seized as officers cleared the last demonstrators from near the bridge,
which links the city — and numerous Canadian automotive plants — with Detroit.

The Ambassador Bridge had remained closed for most of Sunday despite the break up of the protest as a heavy snowstorm blanketed the area. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens had said the span would open once authorities determined it was safe to do so.

Canada’s industry minister, François-Philippe Champagne, welcomed the development, saying on Twitter: “Good news. Glad to see that the Ambassador Bridge is now reopened.”

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.

On Friday, a judge ordered an end to the blockade at the crossing in Windsor and Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency allowing for fines of 100,000 Canadian dollars and up to one year in jail for anyone illegally blocking roads, bridges, walkways and other critical infrastructure.

Partial closures at the bridge started on Feb. 7 and by midweek the disruption was so severe that automakers began shutting down or reducing production. The standoff came at a time when the industry is already
struggling to maintain production in the face of pandemic-induced shortages of computer chips and other supply-chain disruptions.

“We are protesting the government taking away our rights,” said Windsor resident Eunice Lucas-Logan. “We want the restrictions removed. We have to wait to find out.” The 67-year-old has been out supporting the protest for the past four days.

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