Police criticized for tactics enforcing tam-tams curfew

Longtime tam-tams participant says police have become more aggressive in enforcing the 9:30 p.m. end time for the event.

Longtime tam-tams participant says police have been enforcing the 9:30 p.m. cutoff more severely this summer

The regular Tam Tams event, held every Sunday at Mount Royal Park, was captured for the new film, EXO. (Radio-Canada)

Mario Bouchard, a longtime tam-tams participant, says police have become more aggressive in enforcing the 9:30 p.m. end time for the event. 

He says the change in policing shifted two years ago, but became more noticeable this summer.

Bouchard says police threaten musicians and audience members with cancelling the event, which takes place every Sunday during the summer, if they don't leave the park quickly enough.  

"I feel like a pariah," Bouchard said.

Recently, he said police surrounded a group that stayed past the designated end time.

"They blinded us with their flashlights. It was really intimidating," Bouchard said.

He says tam-tams is a family event that brings people together in a respectful way, but concedes that at the end of the day, there can be some rowdy people leftover — "nothing threatening, impressive maybe." 

However, he says that doesn't justify the police's actions.

Police deny they're threatening

Cmdr. Marie-Claude Dandenault says the situation at tam-tams has been improving over the last few years. (CBC)

Montreal police Cmdr. Marie-Claude Dandenault, who oversees the policing of tam-tams, says they are trying to raise awareness about the agreement with the parks department, which says the event ends at 9:30 p.m.

She says the officers are not instructed to be threatening.

Dandenault says the result has been positive because tam-tams is, "quieter than in the past."

No complaints against tam-tams

During a council meeting on May 28, a friend of Bouchard's and tam-tams regular raised the policing issue during question period.

Luc Ferrandez, the borough mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal, says the rules are that tam-tams must stop at sunset. 

"If the police are not there, it always continues after sunset, which is why they intervene," Ferrandez responded at the meeting. He added that the police receive hundreds of complaints.

But in the past two years, neither the SPVM station in Outremont nor in neighbouring Plateau-Mont-Royal have received any complaints related to tam-tams, according to Radio-Canada. The city's 311 line also never registered any complaints.

This week Bouchard sent a letter to Mayor Valérie Plante and Ferrandez, asking for a meeting with city authorities.

Bouchard says he's also trying to revive the non-profit Spiritual Guardians, one of the organizations that took part in the 1990s tam-tams round table, setup under former mayor Jean Doré.

He hopes these steps will keep the friendly spirit of the event, which he says benefits the surrounding shops and restaurants.

Ferrandez did not respond to Radio-Canada's request for comment.

With files from Radio-Canada