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Stateside Podcast: Trucker vaccine protest comes to Windsor

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Truck drivers in Canada who oppose COVID-19 vaccine requirements have been protesting in both Ottawa, the nation’s capitol, and further west in Emerson. Now, they have a new target in sight: the Windsor-Detroit border crossing. They turned out in such droves that the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Canada closed entirely on Monday night.

On Tuesday, United States-bound travel over the bridge reopened, but, according to Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, "it's a very fluid situation and is somewhat volatile in that it could change very, very quickly."

He said the crossing is a crucial trade link between the U.S. and Canada. It’s the busiest commercial border crossing between the two countries, and Canadian lawmakers said they worry about the effects of shipping delays on the economy and supply chains.

In Windsor, Mayor Dilkens said recent protests have “escalated to a different level.” Protesters have disabled vehicles, occupied streets and displayed Nazi symbols, and police have issued tickets, he said. Furthermore, he predicted that enforcement actions against illegal protests will escalate in the next few days.

“This has gone far and above just people who are opposed to getting a vaccine or opposed to restrictions that may have been imposed at restaurants or movie theaters,” Dilkens said. “This has morphed into a protest including those people, but also including people who are against government.”

He said officials will ensure that at least one lane of traffic in each direction can move across the bridge. This will be a compromise for now, but going forward he doesn't see a desirable solution for the protestors.

"Even if Canada said, 'We are removing the vaccine requirement for truckers, Canadian truckers returning home,' they would still be required to be fully vaccinated to enter the United States," Dilkens said. "And so it really is a problem without a solution for those who who started this."

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Erin Allen comes to Michigan Radio as a new producer for the station’s Stateside show. She is an experienced communicator driven by her curiosity about stories of people.
Briana Rice is a reporter/producer operating out of Detroit.