People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante

VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

Hundreds of protestors gathered in Montreal on Sunday in defiance of a newly adjusted curfew intended to stem surging COVID-19 case numbers before dozens of them started fires and damaged property in the city’s old quarter.

Police responded with tear gas in a bid to control the crowd, who were purportedly protesting Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s decision to roll the city-wide curfew back from 9:30 to 8 p.m. The move, previously replicated in other COVID-19 hot spots across the province, took effect in Montreal and nearby Laval on Sunday.

The protest began in relative calm, with a mostly young crowd dancing to music from loudspeakers while lighting fireworks and chanting, “freedom for the young.”

But the festive atmosphere quickly turned violent as a few protesters lit a garbage fire in Montreal’s Jacques Cartier Square, which was met with tear gas from riot police.

Police soon rushed the crowd, prompting dozens of protesters to scatter and cause mayhem down the cobblestone streets of Montreal’s tourist district.

They lit garbage fires at many intersections and seized projectiles from city streets, hurling them at nearby windows and shattering many.

A spokeswoman for Montreal police said she couldn’t offer any comment on the protests, describing them as an ongoing situation. She said that more information would become available as things stabilized and police on the scene could file their reports.

Marwah Rizqy, a Liberal member of the provincial legislature that represents a Montreal riding, tweeted her disapproval of the protestors’ actions.

“Chanting freedom while ransacking windows of stores that are already just getting by. It’s disheartening / outrageous,” Rizqy tweeted in French.

A few protesters were still out on the streets at around 9:30 p.m. throwing glass, breaking city infrastructure and running from police.

Sirens rang through the streets as firefighters put out the many small blazes lit along Old Montréal’s alleys and narrow roads.

The curfew ostensibly at the heart of the protest was imposed to curb COVID-19 infection rates that have spiked in several regions in recent weeks.

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus.

Hospitalizations jumped by 25 to 608, with 139 patients in intensive care.

Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that the numbers are concerning given that 58 per cent of new cases involve people under the age of 40.

“While vaccination accelerates, we must continue to adhere to the measures if we want to defeat this pandemic,” Dube wrote.

“Let’s show solidarity.”

Legault said last week that he was imposing the health order in Montreal and Laval despite a relatively stable case count as a precaution, due to the heavy presence of more contagious virus variants.

Residents in those regions who leave their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. without a good reason could face fines of over $1,000.

Legault extended the curfew in Montreal and other red zones from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in mid-March, but said last week that the evolving COVID-19 situation gave him no choice but to reverse course.

Legault previously placed Quebec City, Levis, Gatineau and several municipalities in Quebec’s Beauce region under the earlier curfew.

The government also closed schools and non-essential businesses in those areas, and Legault announced Thursday that the measures would be extended until at least April 18.

The province also gave 59,447 doses of vaccine on Saturday, and has currently given a shot to just over 22 per cent of the population.

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press

CoronavirusMontreal

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Letters to the Editor.
Southern tribute brings back abundant memories

Growing up a great time with a friend lost far too soon

Paul Beltgens will never advocate for the export of raw logs under any circumstances. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Innovative approach keeps forest company running strong

Owner Beltgens embraces changing times, utilizes high standards in production

Pudge Bawa received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s 22nd Black Tie Awards on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Submitted)
Black Tie winners announced during virtual awards event

Recipients gave speeches by phone while being live-streamed on YouTube

A selection of frozen foods are being offered from the Playbill Dining Room. (Photo submitted)
Freezer foods available to support the theatre

Select items available for pick-up at the gallery gift shop

The Cowichan Valley Regional District introduces a new app to contact residents during emergencies. (CVRD photo)
New emergency alert and notification system launched for Cowichan region

Cowichan Alert a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Island man sentenced in Nanaimo after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, of Nanoose Bay, given six-month sentence

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

Most Read