Hundreds defy Montreal's 8 p.m. curfew in destructive protest
Montreal police say they have handed out 108 tickets, made 7 arrests so far
Montreal police handed out more than 100 tickets and made several arrests after a Sunday night protest against the city's newly adjusted curfew turned violent.
Police spokesperson Const. Véronique Comtois said the preliminary tally includes seven arrests made and 108 tickets handed out — 107 for breaking public health rules, and one for contravening a municipal bylaw.
Dozens of acts of mischief and criminal fires are still under investigation, she said.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in the Old Port, a tourist district, for the protest against the 8 p.m. curfew. It began in relative calm — a mostly young crowd danced to music from loudspeakers while lighting fireworks and chanting, "freedom for the young."
But eventually, a few protesters lit a garbage fire in Place Jacques-Cartier, which was met with tear gas from riot police. Some also seized projectiles from city streets, hurling them at nearby windows and shattering many.
Police soon rushed the crowd, prompting dozens of protesters to scatter and cause mayhem down the cobblestone streets.
Many of the demonstrators were not wearing masks.
Premier François Legault said 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 precaution, due to the heavy presence of more contagious virus variants.
The government previously placed Quebec City, Lévis, Gatineau and several municipalities in Quebec's Beauce region — all of which had seen sudden spikes in cases — under the earlier curfew.
WATCH | Hundreds protest COVID-19 curfew in Montreal:
Some protesters interviewed by Radio-Canada questioned the government's logic behind advancing the curfew. Some claimed that Quebec is exaggerating the severity of the pandemic, while others said there was no scientific justification for the curfew.
Minister says health system strained
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé told Radio-Canada he believes the protesters represent a tiny part of the population.
"We see it in the polls, people continue to listen, people continue to be aware of what we are going through," he said, citing the ongoing strain affecting the province's health-care system.
A curfew was first imposed across Quebec Jan. 9. It required Quebecers across the province to be in their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless they had a valid reason to be out.
The curfew was later moved back to 9:30 p.m. in some regions, including Montreal, and lifted altogether in some of Quebec's more remote regions.
With files from Radio-Canada and The Canadian Press