The “Freedom Convoy”
Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
In recent weeks, the “Freedom Convoy”, a movement led by Canadian truckers, has disrupted the capital of Canada, Ottawa, to protest coronavirus-related restrictions. The United States and Canada recently created new rules which require truck drivers to be fully vaccinated in order to cross the U.S.-Canadian borders. On January 28th, protestors arrived in Ottawa in semi-trucks to oppose the new mandates. While some protestors are peacefully protesting, there has been a large presence of far-right extremists, several demonstrators who defaced Canadian monuments, and anti-semitic and confederate flags being waved around.
Many groups that represent truckers have distanced themselves from the protests, stating that the majority of truckers are fully vaccinated.
The “Freedom Convoy” protestors have set up blockades across the Coutts border and Ambassador Bridge, which are both important crossing points in the U.S.-Canadian border. The Ambassador Bridge serves as a trade link for the region's auto industry and a route for Canadian nurses who work in Detroit hospitals.
The Canadian police have made several arrests and attempts to stop protests. They have tried to dismantle supply lines that sustained protestors, seized fuel, made several arrests, and issued more than 1,300 tickets for violations.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned protestors that there would be “an increasingly robust police intervention” to end the truckers’ protests against vaccine mandates. The federal governments of the United States of America and Canada have also given no indication of dropping the new vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers.
The Global Movement
Photograph: Marty Melville/Agence France-presse - Getty Images
In Wellington, New Zealand, protestors have clogged the streets with vehicles and camped outside of parliament to oppose vaccine mandates. They have adopted the name, “Convoy for Freedom”. On Thursday, New Zealand police arrested more than 120 people. Trevor Mallard, the Speaker of Parliament, kept water sprinklers on all day to encourage campers to leave. However, protestors covered sprinklers with cones and dug trenches to avoid the water.
In Canberra, Australia, peaceful rallies have lasted over a week to protest vaccine mandates.
In New York, U.S., city workers protested on the Brooklyn Bridge by walking with large U.S. and Canadian flags to protest new vaccine mandates that threaten dismissal if individuals are unvaccinated.
In Anchorage, Alaska, truckers drove to Eagle River to support Ottawa demonstrators and protest the new vaccine requirements to cross the U.S.-Canadian borders.
In France, protests planned to block the capital with a convoy of vehicles starting Wednesday, but French police banned demonstrations over the weekend to prevent disruptions to public order.