Can protests similar to the Canadian 'Freedom Convoy' happen here? They already are.

A weeklong "Freedom Convoy" trucker protest in Canada that shut down the busiest border crossing to the U.S. has inspired trucker protests around the world.

Including in the United States.

Dozens of vehicles and hundreds of people gathered Saturday and Sunday near the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, that connects with the Ontario city of Fort Erie. The protesters flew American flags, honked horns and carried banners saying "my body my choice" and "do not comply."

Among the organizers was Convoy to Save America, a group that lavished praise on the Canadian effort.

"We watched the joy spread as everyone came together to stand for the freedom to choose," Pennie Fay, one of the group's founders, said in a statement. "Convoy to Save America carries that same message of unity, togetherness, and peace."

Fay said the group stands together for the right to choose – "no mandates, no mask rules, no more lies."

The bridge was not closed, but the demonstrators drew the attention of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who visited an interagency command center in Buffalo.

"We're prepared for any impacts from protests near the Canadian border," she said. "We are ready to address any potential travel and commerce disruptions and also ensure we can protect everyone’s right to peaceful protest."

AMBASSADOR BRIGE REOPENS: Police clear protesters

Another group, the People's Convoy, is planning a cross-country convoy starting in Los Angeles and ending in Washington, D.C. Dates were expected to be announced as soon as Monday.

Canada's "freedom convoy" in Windsor, Ontario, shut down the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit. It took several tow trucks and more than a dozen arrests over the weekend before the protest was disbanded and the bridge reopened. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called it a "win for Michigan families."

"It’s time to get traffic and trade moving across North America’s busiest land border crossing again," Whitmer said. She vowed to "do whatever it takes to ensure that our businesses can keep humming along."

Protesters, who also have created havoc at the capital in Ottawa for three weeks, say they object to Canada's COVID-19 rules. Truckers have specifically targeted a mandate requiring drivers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine requirements.

But Colleen Sinclair, a counterprotester who lives in Ottawa, said all demonstrators have had their say and need to move on. Or the police should drive them out, she said.

“I feel angry at what’s happening. This isn’t Canada," Sinclair said. "They’re occupiers. This is domestic terrorism and we want you out of our city. Go home.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to invoke emergency powers to end the protests, a senior government official said Monday. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, the Associated Press reported.

US-CANADA BRIDGE REOPENS: Weeklong trucker protest targeted COVID mandates

In western Canada, a major truck border crossing between Surrey, British Columbia, and Blaine, Washington, was closed Sunday after Canadian authorities said a few vehicles had breached police barricades and a crowd entered the area.

The Ontario protesters could claim a small victory Monday when provincial Premier Doug Ford announced that he would lift proof-of-vaccination requirements in two weeks. Ford said the decision was not a result of the protests but was made because “it is safe to do so." Vaccination proof is required to get into restaurants, gyms and sporting events.

Some U.S. leaders have expressed firm support for the truckers. President Donald Trump said he was proud that many protesters were waving Trump banners. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, in an interview with the conservative media site Daily Signal, said civil disobedience can "clog things up, make people think" about the mandates.

Some of the blame for the Canadian protests falls on U.S. officials who put mandates on Canadian truckers coming here, Paul added.

“Some of this, we started,” Paul said. "The truckers are annoyed. They’re riding in a cab by themselves, most of them for eight, 10-hour long hauls, and they just want to do what they want to do. It’s their own business.”

The Canadian protests also inspired convoys and protests around the world.

Hundreds of cars, camper vans and trucks taking part in a protest convoy were preparing to enter Brussels on Monday after a weekend protest in Paris that led to almost 100 arrests, France24 reported. Brussels already has banned the protest.

Nightclubs in Amsterdam stayed open Saturday night in solidarity of demonstrations at The Hague against restrictions in Netherlands. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday accused protesters there of “intimidation and harassment" that has brought chaos to the capital of Wellington for the past week.

“That cannot be tolerated," she said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Freedom Convoy inspires COVID trucker protests in New York, LA, DC

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