THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
MONTREAL – The Montreal police officers were very busy Saturday until the evening to put an end to more than a dozen illegal gatherings, noting the violation of the measures imposed by the Public Health Act to deal with the COVID pandemic -19.
“During the afternoon and evening, the SPVM intervened in 11 places for alleged breaches of the decree,” said agent Caroline Chèvrefils, spokesperson for the Police Department of the City of Montreal ( SPVM).
Saturday morning, the police also confirmed their intervention at the sites of three other illegal gatherings in synagogues and “places of worship” in the metropolis since the day before.
After this first wave of interventions, much publicized, the SPVM had therefore set up “a service of order in the boroughs Outremont and Le Plateau-Mont-Royal”. The police were therefore very present and very visible on the ground in order to make people aware of their obligations, but also in the hope of having a dissuasive effect.
Remember that the fines distributed can range from $ 1,500 to $ 6,000.
“Violations were observed in nine places. The body responsible for each of these places will be the subject of a general infringement report submitted to the DPCP as a legal person, ”the SPVM spokesperson stressed.
A total of 223 offenders were identified at these nine locations, and they could be fined if the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) approves general offense reports against them.
Statements of offenses were also distributed on the spot, as the agent Chèvrefils explains.
“Fifteen tickets were issued for illegal indoor assembly and a ticket was issued for non-compliance with the curfew.”
Reaction of dismay
In a statement issued in the evening, the Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec said it regretted “that some members of the communities did not respect the directives of the Public Health limiting to ten the number of people who can be present at the same time in the same place of worship”.
However, he criticizes the SPVM for misinterpreting the government decree and the protocol established by the CNESST with those responsible for places of worship.
These directives “allow the opening of several prayer rooms in the same building as long as this same building has separate entrances on the street”, according to the Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec.
“This ignorance of the regulations put in place by the police authorities adds to the confusion,” he maintains.
Several separate rooms
Several Hasidic Jews who watched their synagogue around the corner, despite some reluctance, agreed to speak with a representative of The Canadian Press in the early afternoon. All refused to be recorded when answering questions, explaining that they are prohibited from doing so because of the Sabbath, the day of rest which falls on Saturday, on the seventh day of the Jewish week.
The synagogue was divided into “separate rooms” that could accommodate “a maximum of ten people,” a young Hasidic Jew said in English, before being told in Hebrew by an older man not to answer journalists’ questions. “There are plenty of rooms,” insisted another Hasidic Jew.
Another passer-by told the group of Hasidic Jews that he supports them and that “they” (the police) behave like Nazis.
The oldest man in the group said “all the rules” of public health are being followed.
Illegal gatherings from Friday evening
It was a call to 911 that alerted the police before their intervention at the scene of a first illegal gathering on Friday late afternoon. When the SPVM police arrived, people were leaving the place noisily, by the dozen.
A total of 35 offenders will be the subject of a general violation report in the event of this gathering.
“Unfortunately, a majority of these offenders decided to leave the scene by physically rushing at the police officers, then said another spokesperson for the SPVM, Julien Lévesque, to the media.
The police were not injured, he said, however.
The Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec strongly condemned “the use of disgraceful terms by members of communities towards the police”.
People called the police “Nazis” as they left the synagogue on Friday.
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