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

Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks drew a large crowd to the Abbotsford Centre in 2019. Canucks management hopes the crowds return for the planned AHL team this fall, and early returns are positive. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Canucks: ‘Incredible’ early interest for Abbotsford AHL tickets

Team has had a strong response to both e-mail information and priority ticket lists

Red dot shows location where fisherman was rescued by boater on Friday, May 7, 2021. Other fisher still missing presumed drowned after boat swamped on Fraser River near Vedder/Sumas confluence. Rescued man swam to shore after boat sank, while friend is still classified as missing as of May 10. (City of Chilliwack map)
Fisherman still missing after boat flipped on the Fraser River

One man made it out, other still missing, after anchor got snagged in the Fraser near Chilliwack

Graduating goalie Mathieu Caron stops Prince George forward Nick Rheaume in Sunday’s season finale at the Chilliwack Coliseum. (Darren Francis photo)
Chilliwack Chiefs say goodbye to departing vets in pod season finale

Longtime goalie Mathieu Caron and captain Kyle Penney are among the players aging out of the BCHL

Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue workers and emergency personnel set up a command centre on Friday evening. It took KHSAR to find a lost hiker who veered off-course near Campbell Lake west of Harrison Hot Springs, finding them about 380 metres off-trai and escorted them safely to the trailhead. (Photo/Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue)
Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue guides lost hiker home

Hiker ended up almost 400 metres off-course as darkness fell on May 7

Joan Septembre went for a weekend hike at Lindeman Lake, parking next to a vehicle that had two windows smashed in. (submitted photo)
Thieves active at Lindeman Lake and other parking spots along Chilliwack Lake Road

The hiking community is lamenting an uptick in car theft and vandalism as the weather gets nicer

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read