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Rioters set fires, smash windows in Old Montreal curfew protest

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MONTREAL —
Rioters smashed windows and set fires in Old Montreal during a large protest that took place in violation of Quebec’s curfew on Sunday evening. 

A crowd had initially gathered in Place Jacques Cartier, chanting slogans such as “Freedom for the Young.” However, some present began setting fires in garbage cans and smashing windows of nearby storefronts. Riot police soon moved in, firing tear gas.

By 9:45, the crowd had been mostly dispersed, leaving widespread damage in their wake. As of 10:15, an SPVM spokesperson said the protest was not considered finished and could not provide details on any arrests or fines.

The owner of Notre Dame St.’ Rooney Shop took to his Instagram page to post a picture of his store’s smashed window. 

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“People are mad at the provincial government for their decision to bring back the earlier curfew so they decided to take it out on small businesses. I wonder if this helped,” he wrote.

As of Sunday evening, curfew begins at 8 p.m. rather than 9:30 p.m. in Montreal and Laval. While Quebec has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past week, with each day seeing at least 1,100 new cases, numbers have been somewhat stable in Montreal.  The curfew change was announced earlier in the week by Premier Francois Legault, who said it was a preventive measure in anticipation of an explosion of COVID-19 cases due to the virus’ variants.

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Doctors have warned that they are seeing a larger proportion of younger patients being hospitalized due to the virus than during the virus’ first two waves. 

The gathering comes a day after a large protest against public health measures such as mandatory mask-wearing and alternating attendance in Quebec’s schools.  

At least one Instagram account called for a second night of protests to be held on Monday. 

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