A week-long “Freedom Convoy” trucker protest in Canada that closed the largest border crossing to the United States has inspired protests by truckers around the world.
Including in the United States.
Dozens of vehicles and hundreds of people gathered Saturday and Sunday near the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, which connects to the Ontario town of Fort Erie. Protesters waved American flags, honked their horns and held up banners saying “my body my choice” and “do not conform”.
Among the organizers was Convoy to Save America, a group that praised the Canadian effort.
“We saw the joy spread as everyone came together to stand up for the freedom to choose,” Pennie Fay, one of the group’s founders, said in a statement. “The convoy to save America carries the same message of unity, solidarity and peace.”
Fay said the group stood together for the right to choose — “no mandates, no mask rules, no more lies.”
The bridge was not closed, but protesters caught the attention of New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who visited an interagency command center in Buffalo.
“We are prepared for any impact from protests near the Canadian border,” she said. “We stand ready to deal with any potential disruption to travel and trade and also to ensure that we can protect everyone’s right to peaceful protest.”
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Another group, the People’s Convoy, is planning a cross-country convoy beginning in Los Angeles and ending in Washington, D.C. Dates are expected to be announced as early as Monday.
Canada’s “freedom convoy” in Windsor, Ontario closed the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit. It took several tow trucks and more than a dozen arrests over the weekend before the protest was dissolved and the bridge reopened.
The protesters, who also wreaked havoc in the capital city of Ottawa for three weeks, say they oppose Canada’s COVID-19 rules. Truckers specifically targeted a mandate requiring drivers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or subject to testing and quarantine requirements.
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In western Canada, a major truck border crossing between Surrey, British Columbia, and Blaine, Washington, was closed on Sunday after Canadian authorities said a few vehicles broke through the barricades of the police and that a crowd had entered the area.
Some US leaders have expressed strong support for truckers. President Donald Trump said he was proud that many protesters were holding Trump banners. Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, in an interview with conservative media site Daily Signal, said he hoped “it would be great” if protesters “clogged up” US cities.
“The thing is, it wouldn’t shut down the city because government workers haven’t come to work for two years anyway,” Paul joked. “It would be nice to change. We would actually have traffic.”
The Canadian protests have also inspired convoys and demonstrations around the world.
Hundreds of cars, motorhomes and trucks taking part in a protest convoy were preparing to enter Brussels on Monday after a weekend demonstration in Paris that led to nearly 100 arrests, France24 reported. Brussels has already banned the demonstration.
Amsterdam nightclubs remained open on Saturday night in solidarity with protests against the restrictions. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday accused protesters of “intimidation and harassment” who wreaked havoc in the capital of Wellington last week.
“This cannot be tolerated,” she said.
Contributor: The Associated Press