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Police continue to investigate after hundreds took to the streets of Old Montreal on Sunday night, setting fires and smashing windows, in protest of a reinstated 8 p.m. curfew. Thus far, seven people have been arrested and 108 tickets have been handed out to those defying COVID-19 public health guidelines.
The protest began relatively peacefully as hundreds of protestors gathered in Montreal’s Old Port to demonstrate against the earlier curfew. The crowd danced to music, lit fireworks, and chanted “freedom for the young.”
However, things soon unravelled. Some protestors began setting fires using trash from nearby stores, and, eventually, a wooden park bench. Some also began smashing store windows using projectiles from the city’s streets.
Before long, riot police intervened, firing tear gas at the crowds, causing mayhem as protestors scattered throughout the streets.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante condemned the riot in a tweet Monday morning, calling it “absolutely unacceptable.”
“Fatigue linked to our fight against #COVID19 does not in any way justify the destruction of public property and failure to respect the rules. We must remain united and stick together,” the mayor wrote.
She also encouraged residents to visit Old Montreal and support merchants in the area after several businesses were ransacked Sunday night.
Quebec Premier François Legault announced last week that he was rolling back the curfew from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Montreal and Laval, despite a relatively stable case count, as a “preventative” measure to avoid an explosion of COVID-19 cases due to the presence of more contagious virus variants in those areas.
The curfew was first imposed Jan. 9 as the province faced a surge in hospitalizations following the holidays. Though it was later moved to 9:30 p.m in some regions, it has remained in place ever since.