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Blockade at Canada-U.S. bridge enters seventh day as demonstrators dig in

The blockade of demonstrators protesting vaccination mandates and other Covid restrictions has impacted millions in cross-border transactions.

Traffic across the Ambassador Bridge between Canada and the United States had not resumed by early Sunday as some protesters doubled down on their defiance and new crowds gathered, further delaying the process of clearing the blockade.

Enforcement in Windsor, Ontario, throughout the day included moving demonstrators away from the bridge, installing k-rail barricades nearby that would prevent the strategic placement of vehicles, and ticketing vehicles for parking violations.

A tense standoff appeared to be dissolving peacefully before noon and some truckers moved vehicles used in the blockade, but by nightfall the crowd swelled, NBC affiliate WDIV of Detroit reported.

Hundreds more protesters arrived to bolster crowed in Windsor on Saturday and settled into a face-off with police about two blocks away, waving flags and yelling. While there were no visible physical confrontations, the crowd still controlled the road to the bridge late Saturday.

The protest continued despite a judge's order Friday for the protesters to leave and an announcement from Windsor police that they had “commenced enforcement" against blockading demonstrators on the bridge linking Windsor and Detroit.

Less than a mile from the bridge Saturday night a 27-year-old man was arrested “for a criminal offence in relation to the demonstration,” Windsor police said.

The closure of the bridge, which carries more than one-fourth of the trade between the U.S. and Canada, has impacted an estimated $392.56 million a day in cross-border transactions.

The Windsor demonstration is one of multiple spinoffs tied to truckers’ “Freedom Convoy," which started out against vaccination mandates for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border and has evolved into opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and pandemic restrictions.

The protest is now in its third weekend in Ottawa. Hundreds of protesters were using their trucks to block city streets, blare their horns and disrupt traffic, leading the mayor of Canada’s capital declared a city state of emergency on Feb. 6.

On Saturday, demonstrators also shut down smaller border crossings in Surrey, British Columbia; Emerson, Manitoba; and Coutts, Alberta, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Canadian border officials said late Saturday that only the crossings at Windsor and Coutts remained closed.

Officials in Michigan continued to warn motorists to avoid the bridge into Windsor. Police in the Canadian city urged commuters to avoid areas affected by the protests.

Late Saturday the Ottawa Police Service said in a statement that federal and state authorities would join them in their attempt to unlock the grip truckers and supporters have had on the city. Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Ontario Provincial Police will be part of "an enhanced, Integrated Command Centre" dedicated to the demonstrations, the service said.

The provincial and mounted police were also assisting in Windsor, Trudeau's office said Saturday night.

“These blockades must be brought to an end, and the federal government will continue working on every option to end them,” his office said in a statement.

Police had warned that anyone blocking streets or helping to block streets could be arrested after Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court ordered them to leave on Friday.

His ruling, after a 4 1/2-hour hearing, came after the city of Windsor and lawyers for auto parts makers had successfully argued that the blockade was causing undue economic harm for the city and region by disrupting the flow of traffic and goods as well as forcing the auto industry on both sides to roll back production.

Earlier Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency and said he’ll use all government resources to end a two-week protest by Canadian truckers.

Ford said the trucker protest amounts to a “siege” of downtown Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge.

The protest has sparked backlash in both Ottawa and across Canada over alleged harassment as well as the presence of Confederate flags and flags bearing swastikas.

A majority of Canadians oppose the truckers’ actions, according to an Ipsos poll.

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.

Similar demonstrations have popped up 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.

Kristi Johnson, the FBI assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles field office, said the agency doesn't expect any of the planned protests circulating on social media to be disruptive to the Super Bowl or any surrounding activities.