‘Freedom Convoy’ Ends in Windsor, Moves to Paris

The anti-vax-and-other-stuff protest is spreading to Europe.

WaPo (“U.S.-Canada border crossing reopens after six-day blockade by ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters“):

Canada reopened the Ambassador Bridge, a vital border crossing, on Sunday night after Canadian police cleared the blockade by the self-styled “Freedom Convoy,” which continued to disrupt other cities and trade routes and illegally occupy the country’s capital for a third week.

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra tweeted his thanks to law enforcement and government officials for their help in ending the six-day closure of the road between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, which disrupted U.S. supply chains and millions of dollars in trade.

Detroit International Bridge Co. said in a statement that “the Ambassador Bridge is now fully open allowing the free flow of commerce between the Canada and US economies once again,” according to the Associated Press.

But the appeal of such demonstrations, which have spread across Canada to New Zealand and European capitals, had not let up Sunday. The saga’s developments included a tentative deal that Ottawa’s mayor said he brokered for protesters to be less disruptive, made with a loosely grouped movement without central leadership. Fed-up residents in Ottawa and other cities have started taking matters into their own hands by trying to thwart protesters after disruptions that began more than two weeks ago.

CNN (“‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters enter Paris and block traffic before they’re dispersed with tear gas“):

Protesters in a so-called “Freedom Convoy” made it past police checkpoints in central Paris on Saturday, with demonstrators completely blocking traffic in the French capital before they were met with tear gas fired by officers.

The rallies against France’s Covid-19 vaccine pass follow Canada’s “Freedom Convoy,” which has seen truckers protesting against vaccine mandates, Covid-19 restrictions and the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Authorities in Paris and Brussels announced a ban on the convoys Thursday, after which 7,200 police officers and gendarmes — French military police — were deployed to various locations across the French capital for three days.

A map produced by the French convoy organizers showed a plan for protesters to come across the country along five main routes toward the city. It also highlights the demonstrators’ plans to then drive north to Brussels, Belgium’s capital.

The protesters largely blocked traffic on Saturday around the Arc de Triomphe junction, and were waving French flags from their trucks and cars.

[…]

Jérôme Rodrigues, the former leader of the gilets jaunes (or yellow vests) movement which has recently allied itself with the “Freedom Convoy,” is among those who have been arrested, according to BFMTV.

Paris police said in a statement on Twitter that “no blocking will be tolerated” and officers are also currently working “to disperse participants of banned protests” near the Champs-Élysées.Police said they had already intercepted 500 vehicles as of Saturday morning. Many were intercepted at checkpoints at various entry points to Paris and also on the Champs-Élysées, police said on Twitter. Five people have been arrested and had equipment seized, with fines given for carrying slingshots and protective equipment.

Protesters blocking a public road could face up to two years in prison and a fine of more than $5,000, according to authorities.

Canadian authorities were caught flat-footed by the protests; clearly, French authorities learned and were prepared.

The degree to which these protests are coordinated and promoted by outside agitators and to which they’re an organic “copycat” rallying folks like the “yellow vests” already predisposed to disruption isn’t yet clear. Still, I’m betting that it’s mostly the former.

Correction: In my haste to post something before heading off to work, I over-interpreted the Canadian news. I took the opening of the Ambassador Bridge as the ending of the main protest, which continues.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Europe, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JohnSF says:

    A note: the forces deployed in Paris were not just Paris police and gendarmes, but also CRS (Republican Security Corps: national police special riot squads).
    Not guys you want to annoy, if you value your skull.

    3
  2. SKI says:

    Canadian authorities were caught flat-footed by the protests; clearly, French authorities learned and were prepared.

    France was always going to be prepared for protests. Protesting is France’s national hobby.

    Polite Canada protesting was an actual story. Heck, there is a video circulating of a cop in Ottawa, talking to a protestor who *hit him* with their vehicle discussing how the protestor wasn’t going to do that again.

    7
  3. R.Dave 775 says:

    I don’t understand why the Canadian government (or the Provincial governments if applicable) didn’t simply inform these truckers that if they didn’t immediately clear the road, their CDL licenses would be permanently revoked. I’m guessing that would have thinned the ranks pretty quickly.

    3
  4. DK says:

    Tantrum Clownvoy

    5
  5. grumpy realist says:

    The only interesting aspect about the French riots is that they aren’t later in the season…..the flowers bloom, the birdies chirp, and someone (usually students) riot. Standard harbinger of spring in Paris!

    1
  6. Kathy says:

    The time to worry about French protests is when they start erecting barricades. Then it gets serious.

    2
  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JohnSF:

    I was about to say just that. France is not Canada, and they’ll be dealt with here in the French way. It doesn’t take a great deal of provocation to get the EP to go “all out force/crush them” mode. Sometimes I think the powers that be almost relish the conflict (especially with an election just around the corner).

    4
  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92: @JohnSF:

    Do they still carry submachine guns? That always got my attention.

    1
  9. Joe says:

    @Kathy: “Le masque is dead!”

  10. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Oh, you don’t have to go to France for that.
    Quite a few British police are nowhere near as “unarmed” as they are sometimes presumed to be.

  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    They do. It gets complicated here because the national police force is a hybrid thing. SN is civilian, but has little compunction about use of force. GN is literally a part of the military, and CRS might as well be military. The French talk a good game about la Liberté, but at heart they value order far more than they do liberty. It doesn’t take much for them to bring out the Cossacks.

    2
  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I was on a flight from Moscow to Paris with some other Americans and there were drunk Russians (there’s another type?) behind us clearly looking for a fight. We were at the point of picking targets, and one Russian in particular was ready to go, when the flight attendants got the Russians to sit down for landing.

    As we deplane two plainclothes cops grab the main Russian troublemaker by the arms and frog-march (heh) him toward a windowless room where a third cop, big dude, was ostentatiously pulling on leather gloves. I can’t prove they tuned him up, but they definitely tuned him up.

    @JohnSF:
    I’m old enough to have traveled around Spain back in the Franco era when the Guardia Civil in their funny little patent leather hats* would swagger around with submachine guns. This is never reassuring as automatic weapons are not a great idea in crowds. I didn’t get back to Spain until the early 2000’s and the time-lapse change was just unbelievable – same architecture, totally different society.

    *Which you absolutely did not want to make fun of.

  13. Not the IT Dept. says:

    It’s the Windsor Clownvoy that ended; the Ottawa one continues.

    3
  14. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A couple years ago I was on the highway through the mountains between Mexico City and Irapuato (in a Chevy Spark–I do not recommend it), and a truck slowly caught up to us. When it got close enough, I noticed that there was a .50 cal mounted on the back, with a couple guys manning it.

    Me: “Um… Angel? That truck has a .50 cal on the back.”
    Angel: {Looking back} “Oh. That’s just the Federales. Don’t worry about it.”
    Me: {Looks at big gun and continues worrying)

    2
  15. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I was on a flight from Moscow to Paris with some other Americans and there were drunk Russians (there’s another type?)

    Logic suggests the existence of hung-over Russians.

    6
  16. Scott says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: Oh, man. If I was a Ottawa resident putting up with these truckers, I’d be so tempted to get out my ball peen hammer and tap some headlamps.

    2
  17. Mister Bluster says:

    @Michael Reynolds:..traveled around Spain back in the Franco era
    Did you ever see Franco?

    1
  18. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    Only till they can find the hair of the dog…

    Come to think of it, Ukraine’s first line of defense should be kegs of vodka.

    5
  19. Scott says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Mister Bluster: I backpacked around Europe in 1972 as an 18 year old. Spent about 5 days in Spain (San Sebastian, Pamplona, Madrid). Being young, drunk, and stupid I didn’t notice anything of the sort. But being politically naive I wasn’t looking either.

    2
  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: There’s an old line about the Germans invading Poland because they all happened to wake up hung over and cranky one morning.

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I can well believe it. That the French police have a long history of well tolerated violence is probably the worst kept secret in the world, and they basically inspect themselves. Oversight with respect to things like police use of force is carried out almost entirely by organizations staffed by police officers. It’s responsive to, and tolerated by, the real power centers that be in French society. Best corollary I could imagine would be a private police force in Westchester (or Marin) essentially only answerable to the homeowners who are paying them to maintain order and keep the “rifraff” (for lack of a better word) out / under control. They’re doing exactly what they’re expected to do, which is why they’re virtually never called to account for it.

    1
  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Back when airport X ray machines were new, and film cameras were still a thing, I’d take the time to dig out my film and carry it rather than run it through the machine. In Germany, with a guy in uniform with a sub machine gun next to the conveyor, I didn’t take any chances on irritating anybody and let the film get X rayed.

    1
  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    And I’m sure you know that you can absolutely put your trust in the Federales – assuming you have some ready cash on hand.

    @Mister Bluster:
    By that point Franco was very old and might well have been embalmed like the mother in Psycho. Modern era however I did see the king cruising into Barcelona on his sailboat.

  24. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    IIRC the police like the H&K because it is very accurate, and they use low velocity soft point ammunition and single shot mode.
    Much safer than a rifle in situation with bystanders, as well as easier to handle.
    Police appear to think accuracy makes it better choice than a handgun for a lot of purposes.

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JohnSF:

    Indeed. Following the rapprochement between GN and CRS, the main outcome seems to have been standardization of weaponry, with CRS now deploying (among many others) H&K G36’es. That used to be the province of GN and specialty units like GIPN and BAC, but now it’s much more commonplace. When you add it all together, it pretty clearly becomes indicative of the power structure aligning assets to control violence at whatever cost necessary. The lesson that the government learned from gilets jaune unfortunately wasn’t “we have a societal problem we need to get to the roots of and try to resolve”. It was “we have a segment of society determined to undermine order and we have to be ready to meet that perceived threat with appropriate force”.

    1
  26. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And I’m sure you know that you can absolutely put your trust in the Federales – assuming you have some ready cash on hand.

    I think I was safe by the simple fact that I was driving a Chevy Spark–a blatant sign that I wasn’t worth the hassle stopping. 🙂

    1
  27. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    I wonder if one can administer vaccines with something similar to tranquilizer darts, and how hard it would be to equip police with such ammunition.

    1
  28. just nutha says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I like my Spark, but I haven’t driven it through any rough mountainous terrain. Still, I wouldn’t guess that it would be great for power and torque in such a setting. It does handle well, tho.

  29. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: @Sleeping Dog: My understanding is that you don’t have hangovers if you don’t stop drinking. 😉

  30. just nutha says:

    @JohnSF: Years ago in response to a question about why the Seattle Police didn’t have Uzis like the drug dealers did, a former police chief stated that his opinion was that if an officer could take down a suspect with one or two shots like he should be able to, arming them with Uzis is unnecessary.

    That statement didn’t resonate as well with city government or the populace as he had hoped. He was asked for and did offer his resignation by the end of the week, IIRC.

  31. Jen says:

    In Germany, with a guy in uniform with a sub machine gun next to the conveyor, I didn’t take any chances on irritating anybody and let the film get X rayed.

    Yep. This reminds me that after 9/11, a lot of American friends were talking about how strange it was to see armed personnel at airports. Having lived abroad, including Germany in the early- to mid-80s, it felt completely normal to me.

    1
  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: On my first trip to Mexico (’88) we were driving up into the Sierra Gorda on a single lane mountain road when an army convoy caught up to us and had us pull off the road. All 7 of us were directed to line up on the side of the road and a half dozen or so soldiers with AK-47s were guarding us as they searched our truck. It felt like it was straight out of the beginning of a Mission Impossible episode. At one point I got this almost overpowering urge to take off running. Obviously, I resisted it.

    Once they decided we weren’t gun runners or cartel members all was good and they became much friendlier. Their medic patched up one of my buddies who’d gotten some really bad burns the night before. Later on they caught up to us at the pit we were dropping and hung out to watch for a half hour or so.

  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Scott:

    Oh, man. If I was a Ottawa resident putting up with these truckers, I’d be so tempted to get out my ball peen hammer and tap some headlamps.

    The residents of Ottawa seem to share your sentiment:

    “Something Popped Yesterday”: Ottawa Residents Are Pushing Back Against The Anti-Vaccine-Mandate Protesters Controlling Their Downtown

    OTTAWA — Residents here took to the streets Sunday to physically block the movement of the “Freedom Convoy” protesters who have overrun the city for more than two weeks.

    This public backlash is sparked in part by reports of concerts, hot tubs, and bouncy castles in the downtown core occupied by anti-vaccine-mandate protesters. One group of residents crowded the street to blockade a convoy of around 20 cars and pickup trucks in southern Ottawa, holding it up for several hours.

    3
  34. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @just nutha:
    @JohnSF:
    And if I recollect correctly, he also advocated for hollow point ammo in officers’ .38’s because then the ricochets were less likely to hit the bystanders.

    Of course, the 7/11 employees were mostly Vietnam vets, and were mostly packing serious heat. And unlike Fitzsimmons staff, they could hit what they aimed at. I sure don’t miss those days.

    1
  35. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Hey, James – do you want to fix the factual error in your post’s title and change “Ottawa” to “Windsor”? Nothing has ended in Ottawa.

    1
  36. just nutha says:

    @Scott: @Stormy Dragon: Why do you need ball peen hammers to bust headlights? I pretty sure that a standard carpenter’s hammer, or a pipe wrench for that matter, will bust up headlights just fine. I’ve even known guys who used a crowbar or a tire iron.

    2
  37. just nutha says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: “he also advocated for hollow point ammo in officers’ .38’s because then the ricochets were less likely to hit the bystanders.”

    I can see his point on that. Seattle patrol officers are no more likely that Portland’s finest guys who will work for patrol officer pay to be marksmen. (And there are positively amazing stories about PPB marksmanship.)

    1
  38. Gustopher says:

    @just nutha: the ball peen hammer is just more civilized. The right tool for the job.

    You could flip eggs with a jagged piece of sheet metal, but would you do so?

    1
  39. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher: It depends: For eggs over that would be foolish because the yolks would break, but for scrambled, it probably wouldn’t make much difference. (And the best egg spatula I ever had was made from a piece of sheet metal. Not jagged, tho.)

  40. JKB says:

    Snidley Trudeau just went ‘martial law’ (Emergencies Act). He gets a week before Parliament has to ratify it for 30 days. Every national politician in Canada’s neck just went on the line. If they wait the week, they might hang, if they ratify, they might hang. If they act to repeal…

  41. Scott says:

    @JKB: Please rewrite. It is incomprehensible in English, Canadian, or American.

    8
  42. Gustopher says:

    @JKB: Comrade Trudeau* wouldn’t have done this without the votes, or the polling to back it up. Very few necks on the line.

    I think it would have just been easier to suspend the CDLs of the drivers, but what do I know?

    —-
    * My brothers have informed me that he is actually the son of Fidel Castro. (My brothers are morons)

    1
  43. wr says:

    @Scott: He’s claiming that there will be a massive uprising if the Canadian government cracks down on these overgrown children. Apparently not only has he never met a Canadian, he is incompetent at reading a poll and seeing what an incredibly tiny percentage of the population think these losers are anything but spoiled brats and white supremacists.

    3
  44. Kathy says:

    @wr:

    Maybe he hasn’t had his daily cup of bleach, which might work on him like coffee works on humans?

  45. Scott O says:

    @Kathy: I think you’re being unfair to JKB. He probably doesn’t guzzle it straight from the bottle like some guy with a Let’s Go Brandon flag on the back of his pickup. But he enjoys a bleach and tonic with a lime, maybe 2 or 3, before dinner. Perhaps lamb chops with Ivermectin sauce.

    1
  46. gVOR08 says:

    @JKB: I just heard Stephen Marche, author of “The Next Civil War”, who is Canadian, say that if Trudeau were up for re-election tomorrow he’d get 90%.

  47. Kurtz says:

    @JohnSF: @HarvardLaw92:

    Thank you for shedding a light on some things I’ve long wondered about wrt France and England. Adding @Michael Reynolds to the mix has made this conversation a joy to read.

    Now the question is whether seeing @JKB upon scrolling up for a reply link is worth potentially sullying an otherwise pristine, gold star thread.

    1
  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    If they wait the week, they might hang,

    Or, more likely scenario, your tough-guy buddies collapse like a house of cards because people like you are only phony tough, not real world tough. It’s why you all need your gun collections and have to wear your special costumes: you’re gutless and playing dress-up to convince yourselves you’re manly men.

    Every few days we get another January 6 MAGAt weeping in court and begging for mercy because the poor baby was ‘misled.’

    You know who didn’t whine and beg like that? The Civil Rights demonstrators in the 60’s who went toe to toe with your spiritual ancestors and their guns and nooses and dogs and corrupt judges – and did not collapse, but won. And they won without guns or tactical gear or body armor or complicit cops. You people don’t have the balls they had. With every passing day you look weaker and more pathetic.

    1