Protestors demonstrate against police solutions to the pandemic

Organizers believe curfew further marginalizes vulnerable communities

At 1 p.m. on Feb. 6, approximately 100 protestors gathered in the street at the corner of De Maisonneuve Blvd. and Berri St. The protest was organized by Pas de solution policière à la crise sanitaire and the Racial Justice Collective to denounce the police solutions to the pandemic.

The organizers think the current solutions are unacceptable, because the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is not supported by any scientific studies. They think it further marginalizes vulnerable communities, like homeless people, sex workers, drug users, and non-status workers. They argued that resources should be invested in other things such as housing, health, education, the community, and improving working conditions.

Protestors were met with approximately 25 SPVM officers surrounding the intersection. The number of protestors quickly grew to almost 250 before they began to march down De Maisonneuve Blvd. and they stopped on Peel St. in front of Dorchester Square.

Around 250 protesters marched from De Maisonneuve Blvd. to Dorchester Square. Photo Anthony Jean-Louis

The march was led by a flag reading “Face à la covid et à la répression.” Other signs included messages such as “Le capitalisme nous tues”, “Notre survie avant leurs profits”, “Pour le droit d’occuper l’espace public”, and “Financez la santé, pas les policiers!”

Once the demonstrators arrived at their destination, Adam Amsel who works with Meals for Milton-Parc addressed the crowd with his critique of the police solutions to the pandemic. “Police forces play the tough guy in a show of state power until someone dies. Until Raphael Andre dies in a fucking portable toilet,” he said.

Amsel highlighted the negative view of the SPVM held by homeless people. “The faces of Milton and Parc do not light up when they see SPVM officers,” he said. “Folks are not rejoicing at the security guards that have been brought in to replace intervention workers. These people can be well-meaning, but they do not know what they are talking about.” 

He rejected the idea of “pulling yourself up from your bootstraps,” and said this ignores the fundamental communal nature we have to connect and care for each other. “Capitalism needs homelessness to show what can happen if we don’t keep working ourselves to death,” he said.

Protesters called for a the Premier to focus less on big businesses and more on marginalized communities. Photo Anthony Jean-Louis

Simon Pierre Lauzon of Socialist Alternative, a Marxist organization advocating for workers, criticized Premier François Legault’s approach to the pandemic. “Legault is always prioritizing businesses, the private sector, and the largest companies like Canadian Tire and Walmart. The resources are not being [distributed] correctly,” Lauzon said. “We need investments in our schools so that we can have good air circulation and decent class sizes. Our workers in the healthcare industry are burning out. Our nurses are quitting.”

Lauzon highlighted the need for consistent protest until the government changes their approach to the pandemic. “We have to be more active. We need to be politically active every week. We have got to fight back,” he said.