St. Henri Occupiers Face Eviction

“À qui la ville?” Group Calls for Backup, Banishes Mainstream Media

  • Protesters hold up a banner in front of a vacant lot on Notre-Dame St in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out in the empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame and St-Philippe Sts since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • A protester prevents a cameraman from a local news outlet from filming the scene of an occupation on Notre-Dame St. in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out on an empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame St. and St-Philippe St. since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • Protesters hold up a banner in front of a vacant lot on Notre-Dame St in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out in the empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame and St-Philippe Sts since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • A protester prevents a cameraman from a local news outlet from filming the scene of an occupation on Notre-Dame St. in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out on an empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame St. and St-Philippe St. since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • A protester prevents a cameraman from a local news outlet from filming the scene of an occupation on Notre-Dame St. in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out on an empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame St. and St-Philippe St. since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • A protester prevents a cameraman from a local news outlet from filming the scene of an occupation on Notre-Dame St. in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out on an empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame St. and St-Philippe St. since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • Protesters hold up a banner in front of a vacant lot on Notre-Dame St in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out in the empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame and St-Philippe Sts since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • Protesters prevent a cameraman from a local news outlet from filming the scene of an occupation on Notre-Dame St. in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood on June 5. Belonging to a group that calls itself À qui la ville, approximately 30 protesters have been camping out on an empty lot at the corner of Notre-Dame St. and St-Philippe St. since June 1, demanding more social housing in the area. Businessman Peter Sergakis, who owns the empty lot as well as some of the surrounding dwellings, met with police Wednesday morning to ask that the protesters be evicted. Photo Leslie Schachter

Peter Sergakis has had a change of heart.

On Monday, the big-time and often controversial bar owner was quoted in the Montreal Gazette seeming uncharacteristically cool about a group of 20 to 30 protestors that had set up camp on a vacant lot he owns in St. Henri.

“They have a message for the government, that they want more social housing,” Sergakis said. “Let them deliver the message. It’s a democracy. It’s their job to defend the poor. As long as they don’t hurt anyone or do any damage, I don’t mind. They can stay there.”

Four days into the occupation however, Sergakis says the protesters have had their chance and need to leave, apparently meeting with police early on June 5 to have the group evicted.

On the morning of June 6, Sergakis read an eviction notice to the occupiers with police present. All had peacefully vacated the lot by 9:15 a.m., as reported by The Gazette.

The group calls themselves À qui la ville? and is fighting to raise awareness over rapid condo development in the neighbourhood, and the lack of affordable housing.

“The City of Montreal must set up a reserve of land and buildings to curb speculation and allow the development of social housing,” stated the POPIR-Comité Logement. They are also calling for more occupations, to “reclaim the right to the city for all.”

Word of the looming eviction spread quickly on Wednesday, and call-out’s were made over social media for supporters to join in the occupation.

Montreal police confirmed that they had met with Sergakis, and that some neighbours had filed complaints, but remained relatively tight-lipped about whether or not the group would be forcibly removed from the lot.

Occupiers on Wednesday afternoon were making attempts at barring mainstream media from filming the occupation, raising banners to block the view.

—with files from Leslie Schachter

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