Canadian police moved in to remove protesters blocking the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge between the United States and Canada early Saturday.
Less than 24 hours after a judge ordered the protesters to leave, police officials in Windsor, Ontario, tweeted that they had “commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge,” which connects the Canadian city with Detroit.
“We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully,” police said. “Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time.”
The tense standoff appeared to be dissolving peacefully late Saturday morning as police moved in to disperse the nearly weeklong blockade.
Many demonstrators began leaving the area without resistance. Some of them had spent the night at the Ambassador Bridge in defiance of new warnings to end the blockade.
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.
Supporters of the protesters, some of them truckers, argued that an order would disrupt their right to peacefully protest vaccine mandates that hinder their ability to earn a living.
Truckers had also been staging a protest that had shut down Ottawa’s core over various Covid-19 rules, leading the mayor of Canada’s capital to declare a city state of emergency on Sunday.
Dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” hundreds of protesters have been using their trucks to block city streets, blare their horns and disrupt traffic.
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.
Henry Austin is a London-based editor for NBC News Digital.
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.