Montreal

'Pro-mask, anti-curfew' protesters gather at Jeanne-Mance Park

The organizers of the protest say that while they support public health measures, such as masking, the 8 p.m. curfew has had a disproportionate impact on marginalized groups in the province.

Organizers say curfew has disproportionate impact on marginalized communities

Residents look on from their balconies as protesters march through the streets of Montreal's Plateau-Mont-Royal borough. (Radio-Canada/Ivanoh Demers)

Montrealers gathered at Jeanne-Mance Park Sunday evening, calling for an end to the 8 p.m. curfew currently in place in much of the province. 

About 300 people — most of whom wore masks — showed up at the protest, marching through the streets of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough and carrying signs with slogans denouncing the curfew and denouncing Montreal police. 

Protest organizers said that while they support most public health measures in place, such as masking and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the curfew has a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, including people without homes and those suffering from domestic violence. 

"The curfew isn't an answer, the curfew is the repressive measure of a state that uses its police more and more in a futile attempt to address much wider issues," Pas de solution policière à la crise sanitaire, one of the groups behind the protest, wrote on Facebook.

"Real solutions exist to protect the most vulnerable from the pandemic: they involve directing resources to areas of real need and stopping the drive to save the economy at all costs." 

"It's a really repressive measure that really has a negative impact on vulnerable people, so it's a classist measure," added Chantal Montmorency, one of the protesters and general co-ordinator of l'Association Québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues. 

"Drug users, among other people, will not have access to supervised injection sites and the services they need." 

Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault has said that the curfew should not stop Quebecers from seeking help if they are in a situation of domestic violence

Dozens of Montreal police officers followed protesters Sunday. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Protestor Yann Robitaille feels the curfew isn't justifiable because there isn't enough data on curfews to prove they work. 

Though the curfew is meant to discourage people from gathering in private residences, Robitaille says they manage to find other ways to do so. 

"There are so many other things that could be put in place, whether it be ventilation in schools or more tests," he said. 

The protest started at around 5:30 p.m. and was mostly over by the time curfew neared. 

Dozens of police officers followed protesters closely. The SPVM says one person was arrested for stealing and two tickets were issued for defying public health measures. 

A separate group, many of whom were not wearing masks, defied the 8 p.m. curfew for a protest last week, which resulted in damage to several businesses in the Old Port and saw more than 100 tickets issued. 

With files from Matt D'Amours and Radio-Canada's Marie-Josée Paquette-Comeau

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