A Montreal rally turned violent on Sunday night, after police and some protesters clashed. Just hours after Montreal's anti-racism protest began, local police declared the gathering to be illegal, causing tensions between some groups to reach breaking point. Windows were smashed, fires were started and projectiles were thrown at police, who hit back with tear gas and pepper spray.
On Sunday afternoon, demonstrators gathered in their thousands in Montreal, to speak out against anti-black racism and police impunity, following the deaths of George Floyd in the United States, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto.
The solidarity march, which moved through downtown Montreal, continued peacefully for several hours on Sunday afternoon, before local police called on protesters to disperse in the evening.
While the formal rally had concluded, tensions arose when some demonstrators refused to leave the area.
Per The Canadian Press, windows were then smashed, fires were started, and some shops were looted. Projectiles were reportedly thrown at police officers, who responded by using pepper spray and tear gas.
Just after 8 p.m. on Sunday, local police tweeted, "Because of the infractions that are committed, we order everyone to disperse and leave the area immediately."
Warning given to the #manifencours : We are currently observing illegal behaviors. To ensure the event runs smoothl… https://t.co/WucYO1g786— Police Montréal (@Police Montréal)1590965195.0
Warning to the #manifencours : Because of the infractions that are committed, we order everyone to disperse and leave the area immediately.— Police Montréal (@Police Montréal)1590970641.0
George Floyd died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck. He was captured on video telling police, “I can’t breathe.”
In Toronto, 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell from her 24th-floor balcony on May 27. Her family allege that she was pushed by police officers after they were called to her home to provide mental health support.
Signs from the Canadian protests drew attention to both of these people and others, as people held signs with messages such as "Black Lives Matter," "Remember their names" and “I can’t breathe."
Protesters throw rocks at the windows of a Bell Canada building as SPVM tries to disperse remaining crowd… https://t.co/7iaQINMEWy— Simon Nakonechny (@Simon Nakonechny)1590971736.0
As night falls and police try to break up remaining protestors, A group of people have smashed the windows of Steve… https://t.co/Xjpsq4kmkc— Simon Nakonechny (@Simon Nakonechny)1590974799.0
Police have largely dispersed any remaining crowds on Ste-Catherine. Damage mostly limited to some broken windows w… https://t.co/gIC5N6Rm82— Simon Nakonechny (@Simon Nakonechny)1590977407.0
Prior to the evening's events, many of those present say the solidarity rally was peaceful and moved without incident.
Videos and photos on social media show supporters singing, dancing and smiling earlier in the afternoon, even wearing face coverings and using hand sanitizer.
Many attendees publicly distanced themselves from the events that occurred in the evening.
During Vancouver’s anti-racism protest on Saturday, a car drove through a number of activists, after they had attempted to block vehicles from passing. No arrests were made.
In Toronto, protests remained peaceful throughout the day, and those involved were even spotted trying to practice physical distancing wherever possible.
*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.
*This article has been updated.