Former President Donald Trump on Saturday warned of a U.S. “tinderbox” as protests against COVID-19 restrictions inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” take root outside of Canada and may soon be a reality on America’s roadways.
The Department of Homeland Security warned earlier this week that it is monitoring efforts to hold a trucker protest on Super Bowl Sunday in Los Angeles, as well as launch a convoy from California to Washington.
“That’s what happens,” Mr. Trump told Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends Weekend.”
“You can push people so far. And our country is a tinderbox, too. Don’t kid yourself.”
The convoy has set up camp in Canada’s capital in protest over a rule requiring Canadian truckers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or quarantine for 14 days when crossing the border with the U.S. The demonstration has spread throughout the country as a show of resistance against COVID-19-related mandates.
“They’re tired of being pushed around by incompetent people, being told what to do, being forced with the mandates,” Mr. Trump said. “The mandates should have not happened.”
“I think there’s a lot of respect for what they are doing,” he said. “I see they have Trump signs all over the place, that I’m proud that they do.”
A group of truckers blocked the flow of traffic at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Ontario earlier this week, causing some automakers to send workers home because the disruption deprived them of necessary parts.
A Canadian judge ordered protesters at the Ambassador Bridge over the U.S.-Canadian border to end the 5-day-old blockade during a virtual hearing Friday.
Windsor, Ontario police announced on Twitter Saturday morning that its officers and “policing partners” have “commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge.”
The fervor has also begun to spread in Europe.
A convoy of demonstrators protesting inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” converged on Paris from nearby cities despite police warnings against entering the capital.
The protesters, inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations in Canada, jammed traffic near the Arc de Triomphe and on the Champs-Élysées Saturday, according to Reuters.
Similar protests also took shape in the Netherlands.
The “Freedom Convoy” has garnered support from several Republican lawmakers in the U.S.
Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, wants to see truckers stage a Canadian-style protest in America, saying he hopes they “clog things up” with a demonstration against pandemic mandates.
“I hope the truckers do come to America. I hope they clog up cities,” said Mr. Paul in a Friday interview with the Daily Signal.
The protests have also drawn criticism for causing gridlock and disrupting the cross-border flow of goods.
The interruptions at the Ambassador Bridge were a clear line in the sand for the American Trucker Association, an influential trade association in Washington.
“ATA strongly opposes any protest activities that disrupt public safety and compromise the economic and national security of the United States,” said American Trucking Association President and CEO Chris Spear on Thursday.
The association was an outspoken opponent of vaccine mandates in the United States which was shot down by the Supreme Court last month but had not yet weighed in on the ongoing protests in Canada which started as a protest against vaccine rules on truckers but expanded into a general pushback on COVID-19 restrictions.
Mr. Trump said Saturday that a similar protest taking root in the U.S. is not out of the question.
“There are plenty of our country up there right now,” he said. “When you look at what’s happening — when you look at what’s happening in Canada. Our country, I think, is far more of a tinderbox than Canada.”
— Valerie Richardson contributed to this report.