Windsor Law to host public panel on bridge blockade


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Local academics ruminating on the days-long Ambassador Bridge blockade that halted cross-border traffic and culminated in dozens of arrests are inviting public participation in a discussion about the event’s lasting implications.

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The University of Windsor’s law faculty will on Friday host a virtual-panel of 12 professors from varied areas of expertise to debate the bridge protest’s many facets. Entitled “On Our Doorstep: The Windsor Blockade,” the discussion will include an opportunity for members of the public to ask panelists questions.

“A number of us at the university thought it was important for us not only to be discussing the convoy, and the blockade in particular, between ourselves, but to open it up to the community,” Jasminka Kalajdzic, the panel’s moderator and a law professor, told the Star.

“Hopefully it will provide for an informed conversation with the greater community about this pretty significant event in our city’s history.”

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Each professor will have two minutes to give a summary of their “angle” on the blockade, Kalajdzic said. Then, the panelists will be broken up into groups of four, in which they’ll have a bit more time to explain their thoughts and ask lingering questions about the lengthy demonstration.

Jasminka Kalajdzic, a law professor at the University of Windsor who is moderating a virtual 12-person panel about the Ambassador Bridge blockade, is pictured at her home on Wednesday, March 2, 2022.
Jasminka Kalajdzic, a law professor at the University of Windsor who is moderating a virtual 12-person panel about the Ambassador Bridge blockade, is pictured at her home on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Richard Moon, a law professor and panelist whose research focuses in part on freedom of expression, said he’s interested in exploring the point at which a protest is so disruptive that it becomes unlawful and must be shut down.

He also wants to discuss the problem of disinformation and how “it has made any kind of conversation difficult, if not impossible, and really has reached the point where it’s a threat to our democratic order.”

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Although police dismantled the week-long Ambassador Bridge blockade just over two weeks ago, Moon said it’s important to continue to reflect on what happened and why.

“I don’t think these issues in the larger sense are going away,” he said. “The problem of misinformation and disinformation is here with us — I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more protests in the future, if not about this issue, about other related issues.”

The panel discussion is scheduled to run online from 1 to 4 pm To register, visit uwindsor.ca/law/event-calendar/month and select “On Our Doorstep: The Windsor Blockade. Legal, Political, & Critical Perspectives.” Registrants will receive a Zoom link to participate.

Areas of research from Friday’s panelists include international trade, indigenous protests, policing and critical race theory, freedom of expression, political extremism and white nationalism, health policy, privacy law, civil liberties, communication theory, municipal law and states of emergency, and social movements and resistance narrative.

After an anti-mandate protest in Ottawa had been active for weeks, demonstrators on Feb. 7 began to block Huron Church Road at the mouth of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor. Eventually, cross-border traffic was completely blocked in both directions and remained that way for days until law enforcement from across Ontario joined Windsor police in clearing the roadway.

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