Windsor mayor says he would have cleared blocked border “within the first couple hours” if he had authority
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says it’s up to the police chief, not him, to direct the law enforcement response. He says he’s “frustrated” with the situation.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says he would have acted sooner to clear protesters blocking the Ambassador Bridge entrance if he had the authority to do so.
“I would have wanted this ended within the first couple hours of it starting. Unfortunately, I don’t have that authority.” – Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens
Dilkens tells WDET’s Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today that “there is a bright line in legislation at all three levels of government in Canada that politicians cannot direct police operations”
Listen: Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens describes the situation on the ground in Windsor and what he and other public officials are doing to address it.
“I would have wanted this ended within the first couple hours of it starting,” Dilkens tells Henderson. “Unfortunately, I don’t have that authority.”
Dilkens chairs the Windsor Police Services Board, but says that does not give him control of policing decisions. “That is the responsibility of the chief,” he notes, referring to Windsor Chief of Police Pamela Mizuno.
“It’s not a criticism of the chief,” Dilkens says. “I would just, you know, I see what’s going on here. And I see very clearly that there’s no resolution that is going to make all of these protesters happy.”
The Windsor mayor calls the protesters “a fringe group of outliers.”
“They are not part of the majority of Canadians, who have done their part” to help slow the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic.
“You have people who are just angry with government in general, who are now gathering and willing to fight and to protest. And half of them aren’t even really sure why they’re there.” – Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens
The demonstrations and blockades began as a protest against vaccine mandates for truckers re-entering Canada from the United States. But Dilkens says the motivation behind the protests “has morphed greatly since that time.”
“That narrative has been entirely lost now,” he continues. “So there is still a subset of people who are just upset with mask mandates, vaccine mandates, rules and restrictions related to the pandemic. But this has morphed into a whole other type of event.
“And I would say it’s analogous to what you would see when the G7 or the G20 meet, where you have people who are just angry with government in general, who are now gathering and willing to fight and to protest. And half of them aren’t even really sure why they’re there.”
Dilkens says that the value of trade that crosses the Ambassador Bridge is about $400 million a day, which is now being interrupted. That disruption has a disproportionate effect on the auto industry on both sides of the Detroit River.
“This is about lawless, illegal behavior. And regardless of who is undertaking that behavior, I think the response would be measured and be the same.” – Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens
He pushes back against the idea that authorities would be handling the situation differently if racial makeup of the protesters were significantly different.
“I certainly don’t think that the response would be any different regardless of who’s here,” says Dilkens. “I think what you’ve seen in police responses across the province and around the country, with respect to indigenous blockades, or indigenous protests are also the same response, a very measured response — where there’s perimeter blocked and negotiations that are ongoing, and it’s effectively the same type of response that you see in place here.
“And so I don’t think it has anything to do with the color of the skin, the sex, the sexual orientation, the race, color, creed, any of that stuff. This is about lawless, illegal behavior. And regardless of who is undertaking that behavior, I think the response would be measured and be the same.”
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