HELENA — Protesters at the Sweet Grass/Coutts border crossing have ended the blockade and are leaving the port of entry Tuesday after more than two weeks of protesting Canadian COVID restrictions.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said Tuesday traffic was again moving, although slowly, at the border crossing and ask people to avoid the area if possible.
RCMP report that the majority of the protesters have been peaceful, although their actions are considered unlawful.
Monday did see a notable change for the protest, with 11 individuals on Monday near and around the border crossing. Police allege a “small organized group within the larger Coutts protest,” had gathered a cache of guns and a large amount of ammunition. RCMP alleged the group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade.
Police seized 13 long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armor, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and high capacity magazines through search warrants.
Additionally, two other individuals were arrested for allegedly attempting to ram a police vehicle on Monday with a large tractor and semi-truck.
RCMP say the militant-minded individuals represented a small segment of protesters they have experienced at the Coutts blockade.
Law enforcement have set up a location near Milk River on Crown land (Canadian government-managed property) for protesters to legally protest without blocking the flow of traffic.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers across all of Canada to quell the protests by demonstrators who have blocked border crossings in anger over the country’s COVID-19 restrictions. By initiating the Emergency Act, the Canadian government can now freeze the bank account of protesters and organizations supporting them. Trudeau stated Monday he would not use the powers to invoke the military against protesters.
The Sweetgrass/Coutts border crossing is the busiest port of entry for both Montana and Alberta. An estimated $44 million in goods travel through the border crossing each day.
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