May 4, 1970... I'm not sure where I was exactly. I think I had already driven through the Khyber Pass and had given up on my search for the Ali Brothers in Lyallpur Pakistan and was wandering around India. I may have already rented a bungalow on the Indian Ocean in Goa. News travelled slowly in those days, especially in rural Asia. There was no internet; no cell phones. I have a vague recollection of finding an old Time Magazine and reading about the Kent State massacre long after, later that summer. My friend Helen wrote to me and told me young Americans were going to boycott Coke and Pepsi and destroy both iconic companies in retaliation for the murders by the Ohio National Guard. In a part of the world where it wasn't safe to drink water, giving up Coke and Pepsi was a big deal. But I did-- and I haven't had a sip of either all these decades later. (Neither Helen nor any other then-young American who I've ever spoken to remembers any talk of a boycott.) Doesn't matter; I just brought it up to show you what a rebel I was back in the day. I was arrested in the first draft-card burning demonstration in New York. I dropped out of school for a semester and spent much of it in Boston selling acid to Harvard students with the idea that they were the country's future leaders and that maybe acid would help. It didn't. I became a drug addict and an outlaw. I went to marches and protests. And, finally, I lived outside of the U.S. for most of Nixon's presidency.
And that brings us to the (fake) trucker insurrections. Most of the protesters are not truckers; almost none are. And these aren't the anti-war, anti-racism, anti-capitalism protesters from when I was sharing a jail cell with the Fugs, Allen Ginsberg and Dr. Spock. These are the morons, the Nazis, the racists, the QAnon psychopaths, the bigots, the Trumpists... the worst among us.
Still... when I saw the French police shooting tear gas at the "Freedom Convoy" on the Champs-Élysées today, I hesitated. Police roughing up protesters isn't something I wanted to imagine myself celebrating. What if it gets out of hand and people get shot? Oh, not in France. You know where. That's what Trump, Musk and DeSantis are aiming for-- blood flowing in the streets.
Here in the U.S. and Canada, police have started moving in to clear the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor. I have mixed feelings, emotionally and strategically. So far, the confrontation between the protesters and the police is peaceful. As long as it stays that way, fine. What happens, though, when a provocateur provokes? There an armored personnel carrier at the scene. Meanwhile, Kentucky bad boy Rand Raul said "I’m all for it. Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights to you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates. I hope the truckers do come to America, and I hope they clog up cities." The Freedom Convoy already has a theme song, "Ram Ranch." Have you heard it?
The Windsor police said on Twitter as of 10:40 a.m. that no arrests had been made, and advised people to avoid the area. “We appreciate the cooperation of the demonstrators at this time and we will continue to focus on resolving the demonstration peacefully,” they said.
Some of the protesters were yelling at police, while others chanted “freedom, freedom!” and sang “O Canada,” the national anthem. A group of protesters dismantled a tent where they had kept food and supplies, then swept the area around it.
“You are way better than this,” one protester hollered at the police.
Automakers have been particularly affected by the partial shutdown of the Ambassador Bridge, which normally carries $300 million worth of goods a day, about a third of which are related to the auto industry. The blockades have left carmakers short of crucial parts, forcing companies to shut down some plants from Ontario to Alabama on Friday.
A court order calling for protesters to disband or face stiff fines or prison went into effect on Friday at 7 p.m., and the numbers of protesters has since thinned. But on Saturday morning, dozens of protesters, some dressed in fluorescent construction garb, had still refused to leave, and were milling around at an intersection before the bridge, drinking coffee and holding up Canadian flags. Other protesters remained in their pickup trucks, their engines idling, to stay warm.
Art Jussila, an electrician wearing a hunting jacket, said he had been coming every day to protest. “All the mandates have to go, it’s absolutely not right,” he said, referring to vaccine mandates.
As Canada enters the third weekend of a crisis that has brought thousands of protesters into the streets of its capital and disrupted international supply chains, officials are turning to harsher measures to try to restore order.
On Saturday, new groups of protesters were arriving in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, where demonstrators have been snarling traffic and disturbing businesses and residents for weeks. Pop music blared from truck stereos as people wrapped in Canadian flags trudged through snow.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has railed at the protesters for desecrating war memorials and spreading disinformation.
The demonstrations began as a protest against the mandatory vaccination of truck drivers crossing the U.S.-Canada border. But they have morphed into a battle cry against pandemic restrictions as a whole, and the leadership of Mr. Trudeau.
The prime minister and the premier of Ontario both warned on Friday that the demonstrators would face up to 100,000 dollars in fines and a year in prison if they did not disperse voluntarily.
“We know that the best solution to unlawful blockades is that people decide for themselves that they’ve been heard, that they have expressed their frustrations and disagreements, and that it is now time to go home,” Mr. Trudeau said. “That is the message we’ve been sending for some time. But now there will be real consequences with respect to their licenses, their futures, their jobs.”
If the blockades continue, Mr. Trudeau said, “there will be an increasingly robust police intervention.”
Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, declared a state of emergency for the entire province, clearing the way for the government to pass laws that might not normally be allowed to protect citizens. “To those trying to force a political agenda through disruption, intimidation and chaos,” Mr. Ford said in a news conference, “my message to you is this: Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of hundreds of thousands of workers to earn their living.”
The protests have attracted the attention of far-right and anti-vaccine groups globally, raising millions of dollars and inspiring copycat protests in, France, New Zealand and Australia. Organizers of a U.S. convoy announced a protest in Washington, D.C., on March 5.
Polling in Canada is pretty split on this, surprisingly so.Meanwhile, on this side of the border, the Trumpist plot to disrupt the Super Bowl was called off. A confrontation in DC hasn't been. A reminder: As of today 5,824,555 COVID death have been reported worldwide-- 942,106 in the U.S. Mississippi and Arizona, two states that have not taken medical mandates seriously, have the highest death rates in the U.S. Five states lag the rest of the country dangerously in vaccinations. They are all states where voters are too stupid to figure out that Trump (and QAnon) are cons:
Alabama- 50% fully vaccinated (62.0% Trump)
Wyoming- 50% fully vaccinated (69.9% Trump)
Mississippi- 50% fully vaccinated (57.6% Trump)
Lousiana- 52% fully vaccinated (58.5% Trump)
Idaho- 53% fully vaccinated (63.8% Trump)