Vandals break windows, spray paint inside east-end Montreal businesses

Windows were smashed and paint was sprayed all over five businesses on Ste. Catherine Street in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Montreal police are looking into whether anti-gentrification protesters are behind the damage.

Incident in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve could be anti-gentrification protest, police say

Furniture store Montréal Moderne was one of five Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve businesses vandalized overnight. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

Montreal police are investigating after windows were broken and paint was sprayed all over five businesses in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve overnight.

Police say around 1:40 a.m., a number of people called 911 about the vandalism.

The targeted businesses, including furniture stores and a hairdresser, are on Sainte-Catherine Street between d'Orléans and Jeanne-d'Arc avenues.

By the time officers arrived at the scene, the suspects had left, said police spokesman Const. Benoît Boisselle.

Boisselle said police aren't yet sure of the motive, but he says the hypothesis that anti-gentrification groups are behind the damage is still a possibility.

Witnesses told police the suspects were wearing masks. Police are on the scene, looking for fingerprints and other evidence.

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      Similar attack earlier this year

      Martin Lafrance owns furniture store Montréal Moderne and has only been in that location for three months.

      He says he now has to repaint, strip the floor and will end up throwing away half of the pieces in the shop. He estimates it will cost thousands of dollars.

      "I'm a small shop owner. I work six days a week, I work alone, I take a small income from that. It's all I have," he said.

      "They are all vintage pieces that I put a lot of work into all these pieces, each of them."

      Marc Gosselin, an artist who works at Showroom Montreal, another store that was targeted, said a month ago anti-gentrification posters were pasted on the windows of area businesses.

      He believes whoever vandalized the store was trying to scare the owners and people who work there. He pointed to a similar wave of vandalism in the same area earlier this year.

      "They associate us with gentrification. They are against everything that is nice in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. We've been lucky up until now," he said.

      "It's horrible what they did to the store. I can't understand how you can attack a small business."

      with files from Lauren McCallum


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