Old Montreal business owners frustrated by damage done during anti-curfew riot

Business owners in Old Montreal are surveying the damage after their storefronts were ransacked during a Sunday night anti-curfew protest that turned into a riot.

Helena Loureiro is the chef at Helena restaurant on Notre-Dame Street West, which she co-owns with her son, Daniel Loureiro.

She says she was alerted to what was going on by people who live in the area, and arrived at the restaurant around 9 p.m. to find that the front window had been broken, but nothing was stolen.

Loureiro says she has nothing against protesting, as long as people are respectful and follow the rules.

“It’s not us who make the laws,” she told Radio-Canada.

“We are frustrated, too. We are frustrated that we can’t open our restaurants.”

Daniel Loureiro, co-owner of Helena restaurant in Old Montreal, holds the trash can lid someone tossed through the building’s front window Sunday night. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Daniel Loureiro said the restaurant has been closed since October, but that they are offering takeout and hoping to make people happy with their food.

“Living through something like this … last night, it’s just another layer on all the bad stuff we’re living for a year now.”

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Jacques-Cartier Square to demonstrate against the earlier curfew. Though the demonstration was calm to start, police moved in after some participants set fire to some garbage.

Montreal police said that so far, seven arrests have been made and 108 tickets handed out. 

In a tweet, Mayor Valérie Plante called what happened “absolutely unacceptable.”

Later, during a news conference, Plante said it was “ridiculous” and “stupid” that people attacked business owners who are already suffering.

Montreal police said dozens of acts of mischief and criminal fires during Sunday’s riot are still under investigation. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

She says she was told by the police chief that officers were present from the beginning of the protest, and that everything happened within a space of two hours.

“There’s always a balance to find, because sometimes when police officers act too fast it can put oil on the fire,” Plante said, adding that police will continue to be present at similar events.

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault also reacted on Twitter, saying events like what happened Sunday “cannot be tolerated.”

Dismayed by vandalism

Lior Simon, manager of NRJ Jeans on Notre-Dame, says he was dismayed by the acts of vandalism.

“Yes, we are all tired, we want freedom, we want to enjoy it. It is true that staying at home at 8 p.m. is difficult,” he said, but noted that demonstrators won’t get what they want by targeting businesses.

Carole Lalonde, a concierge for a building in the area, said when she heard the commotion, she ran down to a lower floor in the building to see if protesters would try to get inside.

Mayor Valérie Plante said it was ‘ridiculous’ and ‘stupid’ for people to have attacked businesses owners who are already suffering. (Annie Deir/CBC)

She saw people taking construction signs and throwing them at businesses and said it made her feel nervous.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Two STM buses were damaged and a bus shelter was also destroyed, but a spokesperson for the transit authority said no drivers or passengers were hurt.

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