June 1, 2020 by THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL – Eleven people were arrested after tensions flared between protesters and police on Sunday night following a Montreal demonstration demanding justice for a black man who died following a police intervention in Minnesota.
Demonstrators had gathered to denounce racism and police impunity in both Canada and the United States following the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis on Monday after pleading for air while a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.
While the formal rally took place without incident, the situation later degenerated when some protesters smashed windows and lit fires and were met with pepper spray and tear gas from officers.
Montreal police said nine of the arrests were for breaking and entering, one was for armed assault and one was for mischief.
They said more arrests are possible as they investigate some 70 reports of damage to stores and other acts of mischief.
Earlier Sunday, thousands of people marched through downtown Montreal, waving signs and chanting “Black lives matter” as they denounced the treatment of racialized people in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada.
Montreal police declared the gathering illegal about three hours in, after they say projectiles were thrown at officers, who responded with pepper spray and tear gas.
As evening fell, the situation turned into a game of cat-and-mouse between police and small pockets of people who smashed windows and looted stores after refusing the order to disperse.
Among those targeted was Steve’s Music Store on Ste-Catherine St., where looters smashed windows and stole guitars and other valuable equipment, according to an employee reached by phone.
“We don’t even know (the extent of the damage). It just looks like a hurricane came through here,” said Lenny Lanteigne, who added that some protesters used guitars to smash other guitars.
Lanteigne said it was regrettable to see what he described as “group of hooligans” hijacking an important and necessary cause, adding that he was relieved nobody was hurt.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante denounced the looters, whose actions she were in contrast with the larger peaceful protest.
“Demonstrating to denounce racism and demanding that things change is noble and necessary,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I can only denounce the actions of the looters who ransacked the shops and who had nothing to do with this peaceful demonstration.”
Feature image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes