The tension at the Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor (Ontario), eased slightly early in the morning when Canadian police persuaded demonstrators of moving the trucks they used to block the entrance to the busy international crossing.
However, protestors regrouped nearby with reinforcements and continued to block access from Canada late Saturday. They also slowed traffic and commerce for the sixth day.
The police reported that there were 4,000 protestors in Ottawa. On past weekends, the city witnessed a surge in protesters. People gathered around downtown, where anti-vaccine demonstrators had been stationed since January.
Protests at Ottawa's bridge and other locations have been echoed outside of the country with similar inspired convoys in France and New Zealand. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned of possible truck convoys in the United States.
Ex-Cabinet minister in Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau's government called out her former federal counterparts as well as the city and province for failing to end the protests.
"Amazingly this isn’t just Ottawa. It's the capital of the country," Catherine McKenna tweeted. "But no one, not the city or the provincial government, can seem to put their hands together to end this illegal occupation. It's appalling. Get your act together. Now."
Trudeau called the protesters a "fringe", and both federal leaders and provincial leaders said they couldn't tell police what to do.
Ottawa police released a statement late Saturday stating that safety concerns - arising from aggressive and illegal behavior by many demonstrators - limited police enforcement capabilities.
Ottawa police stated that a joint command centre has been established with the Ontario Provincial Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and other agencies.
An earlier statement by police called the protest an illegal occupation. They also stated that they would wait for "reinforcements" from the police before implementing a plan of ending the demonstrations.
Jim Watson, Ottawa mayor, declared a state-of-emergency for the capital. Hundreds of trucks were still parked in front of Parliament Buildings. Protesters set up portable toilets near the office of Prime Minister Trudeau where Trudeau's motorcade typically parks.
A man wearing "Mandate Freedom" & "Trump 2024", spray-painted on his vehicle, left Windsor's bridge entrance at the beginning of the day. Others began to dismantle a small, tarp covered encampment. To cheers and chants "Freedom!" a trucker honked his horn while he too drove off.
Many more people arrived to support the crowd, and they settled in a fight with police two blocks away, waving flags yelling and waving flags. Despite no physical confrontations, the crowd maintained control of the bridge road and traffic was not resumed at the end.
Windsor police stated that no one was arrested, but they urged people not to cross the bridge. Avoid the area!
Protester Daniel Koss stated shortly before police arrived that the demonstration had brought attention to COVID-19 mandates, and he was pleased it remained peaceful.
Koss stated, "It's win-win." "The pandemic is currently rolling down, they can remove all the mandates and everyone's happy. The government does the right things, and all the protesters are happy.
The previous day, a judge imposed an order to end the blockade mostly of pickup trucks and cars. Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared an emergency, allowing fines up to 100,000 Canadian dollars and upto one year imprisonment for anyone illegally blocking roads and bridges or other critical infrastructure.
"The illegal blockades have a negative impact on trade, supply chains and manufacturing. They are affecting Canadian families, workers and businesses. Francois-Philippe Champagne, Federal Innovation Minister, tweeted Saturday that he was pleased to see Windsor Police and its policing partners begin enforcement at the Ambassador Bridge. These blockades must be stopped."
The Ambassador Bridge, which is 25% of all U.S.-Canadian trade, is the most important U.S.-Canadian border crossing. Auto plants on both sides were forced to close down or reduce their production this week. This standoff occurred at a time when industry is already having trouble maintaining production due to shortages of computer chips from pandemics and other disruptions in supply chains.
Stephanie Ravensbergen, 31, said that she came to Ottawa to support her uncle and aunt who had parked their semi on the streets since the start of the protest. She opposed the use of vaccines and masks and believes it is important that schoolchildren can see their friends faces and feel their emotions.
Ravensbergen stated, "We want to have the right of choice." "We want to be able do what everyone else can."
Saturday's protesters tore down the fence authorities had put around the capital's National War Memorial two week ago after demonstrators urinated upon it. Later, some shouted "liberte," French meaning "freedom."
Canada's veterans affairs minister Lawrence MacAulay tweeted, "Completely unacceptable." "This behavior is unacceptable and I am calling for protesters to respect our monuments."
Protesters on the other side of Canada disrupted operations at a border crossing between Blaine, Washington and Surrey, British Columbia. Officials said that it wasn't blocked. Two border crossings in Alberta and Manitoba were also closed.
While protesters decry vaccine mandates for truckers, and other COVID-19 limitations, many of Canada’s public health measures such as mask rules or vaccine passports to get into restaurants and theatres are already disappearing as the omicron surge increases.
Pandemic restrictions in Canada have been much stricter than those in the U.S. but Canadians have generally supported them. The COVID-19 death rates are one-third of those in the United States.
Protests against pandemic restrictions, inspired by the Canadian demonstrations were visible throughout Europe on Saturday .
Police stopped at least 500 cars trying to enter Paris via key roads but they were caught by them. More than 200 motorists were issued tickets, while at least two others were
taken into custody amid a search of knives, hammers, and other objects in a central Square.
A few protestors on Champs Elysees Avenue defied a police order were subject to tear gas. Police struggled to control the crowd when a photographer from the Associated Press was struck in the head by a gas canister.
In The Netherlands, however, hundreds of trucks and other vehicles, including tractors and cars towing campers, arrived at The Hague to block the entrance to the historic parliamentary compound. They were joined by protesters on foot, who carried a banner that read "Love & Freedom, No dictatorship" in Dutch.
Protesters set up camp earlier this week in New Zealand after they rolled up in a convoy with cars and trucks to the Parliament grounds. After initial attempts to remove them led to physical confrontations, police decided to take a more passive approach.
On Friday, Trevor Mallard, Parliament Speaker, ordered his staff to turn the sprinklers on their lawns to water them. He also instructed them to play Barry Manilow tunes over loudspeakers to make them mad. Twisted Sister's "We Are Not Going to Take It" was one of their responses.