Protestors gather to protest against police-based solutions to the health crisis

“Money for the health, not for the police,” shouted protestors.

A group of organizations and protestors joined to march against the police-based solutions facing the COVID-19 pandemic on Feb. 6. The group of 300 people met at Place Émilie-Gamelin and walked down De Maisonneuve Boulevard.

Collectively, Meals For Milton-Parc, The Racial Justice Collective, Solidarity Across Borders, Ensemble Contre la Gentrification, L’Association Québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD), Pas de solution policière à la crise sanitaire, and many more marched.

The groups demanded new systemic solutions such as reinvestment in the social safety net, such as housing to fight against the pandemic.

By giving the police the power to decide how the curfew is applied arbitrarily, it deprives vulnerable people of their rights to the health and safety,” said Chantal Montmorency, a member of the AQPSUD.

Though the curfew has been suspended for the homeless population, the protestors believe that the curfew remains ineffective for other marginalized communities like people with precarious status, drug users, domestic violence victims, sex workers, and fugitives.

During her speech, Montmorency emphasized that the curfew prevents vulnerable people from accessing the health and security services and care they are entitled to and guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights.

Montmorency also said that the AQPSUD has dealt with managing epidemics for over 30 years, and stated that repression, denunciations and police interventions are not the only solutions to end the pandemic. Whether it is an epidemic or pandemic, she said, it is prevention, education, and constant care that will solve the issue.

According to Maryan Kikhounga-Ngot, organizer of the housing group Projet d’organisation populaire, d’information et de regroupement (P.O.P.I.R), the protest’s goal was to address the housing crisis.

“We don’t need a curfew, we don’t need repression and repressive measures, but rather we need solutions.” According to Kikhounga-Ngot, the solution is to increase housing options for the homeless.

If [Raphaël André] had housing, he would have respected the curfew in his house as the prime minister wanted, and not dead in a public toilet.”

Raphaël André was a 51-year-old man who froze to death in a portable toilet at the corner of Milton Street and Parc Avenue trying to respect the curfew rules.

Member of the Socialist Fightback Students (SFS), Simon Berger, shared the same thoughts.“We are here because we vote [against] the repressive measures of the CAQ government like the curfew, and we are for solidarity measures against the pandemic.”

Berger clarified that he and the SFS did not attend the protest because they don’t believe in the virus. He explains that the best way to fight against the pandemic is for all the different organizations to protest for everyone’s health and safety by demanding democratic measures.

On the Facebook event page for the protest, a post by Pas de solution policière à la crise sanitaire says that the protest was a success, making it possible for their message to be heard loud and clear. The post concludes by assuring the public not to give up as the fight is not over.


Photographs by Christine Beaudion

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