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Vandal rampage targets shops on Notre Dame in St. Henri


CTV Montreal: Bandits smash windows in St. Henri


Vincent Powell, Jesse Bowden and Corey Shapiro had their shops on Notre Dame attacked by 10 masked vandals last night.

'It's going to escalate for sure,' - Storeowner


Storeowner Jesse Bowden says that the attacks on his and other businesses on Notre Dame in St. Henri are worrisome.

St. Henri entrepreneur on the attacks


Entrepreneur Corey Shapiro describes the attacks on his property on Notre Dame near Delinelle.



CTV Montreal

Published Sunday, May 24, 2015 12:16PM EDT

Last Updated Sunday, May 24, 2015 7:01PM EDT


Police are investigating after at least eight stores in St-Henri were vandalized at 11:30 p.m Saturday night as a group of masked individuals wearing hoods went on a violent destructive rampage on Notre Dame St. W. near Delinelle St. in the Southwest borough.


The masked vandals came equipped to smash windows. "There were about 10 guys all dressed in black and they came with pool balls and crow bars and broke the windows and 30 minutes later everything was broken everywhere," said Vincent Powell.

Several witnesses called 9-1-1, but when the suspects fled the scene before police arrived.


The Saturday night attacks came one night after an opening night party for a juice bar was targeted by what appeared to be the same attackers. Entrepreneur Corey Shapiro said that smoke bombs were tossed into his newly-opened juice bar Friday. When he went out to look at what was going on, he was hit in the face by pepper spray.

“I ran outside to see what the story was and I got pepper sprayed by people dressed all in black with masks, who had made a strategic attack on a crowd of a couple of hundred people,” he said. “This was an attack potentially endangering people’s lives.”


Jesse Bowden, who is a co-owner of the Campanelli boutique, was on hand Sunday evaluating the damage. He told CTV Montreal that there has been a history of such attacks on the strip.


"They came through about eight months ago spray painting the whole front of the storeface and a group then put out a manifesto on a website saying it was a politically motivated attack to stop the gentrification of this neighbourhood. These are people who are unhappy with the neighbourhood has changed, but the people that are changing it are all from this neighbourhood," he said.

Bowden said that he lives nearby and has several businesses. "I don't think anybody has ever come through and talked to us to understand what we're trying to bring.


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On est rendu au-delà du simple vandalisme comme les graffiti anti "gentrification". C'est maintenant du terrorisme léger. Reste à voir si le niveau de fanatisme de ces "militants" va résulter en des actes plus graves s'ils n'obtiennent pas ce qu'ils veulent.

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Effectivement c'est assez inquiétant.


Toute cette question des effets ou ampleur de la gentrification d'un quartier, percu ou réel. Et qu'on vise ces petits entrepreneurs independents qui ont pris des risques financières et autres pour essayer de gagner leur vie. On ne parle parle pas de McDo ou Costco ici.. Qu'on essai de les intimider, visages masqués ou pendant la nuit. Déplorable. J'espère que les personnes coupables vont être appréhendés.


S'il y a des personnes sérieuses et responsables qui s'inquiètent pour l'avenir de leur quartier, qu'ils participent aux conseils d'arrondissement et aux autres tribunes. Il ne faut jamais céder à la violence.


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Je peux comprendre les gens d'être déçu de l’accessibilité de certains commerces et restaurant mais soyons honnête. La plupart était des magasins d'antiquité et de shop supply. La rue était morte. Je peux pas comprendre les gens à vouloir enterré leur quartier et d'en avoir aucun service. Tout l'île devient inabordable malheureusement! :S

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Tension boils over in St-Henri


Business owners in St-Henri are calling on the city of Montreal to take action to stop what some are calling an organized campaign of anti-gentrification “terrorism” in the Sud-Ouest borough neighbourhood.

For several months now, graffiti denouncing gentrification has been appearing on walls and windows of businesses along a stretch of Notre-Dame St. W., a formerly rundown area that has been attracting business catering to higher income residents in recent years.


Last Friday evening, several masked individuals dressed all in black threw a smoke bomb into a crowd celebrating the opening of a high-end juice bar on Notre-Dame St. W. near St-Philippe St. One member of the group also pepper-sprayed the owner of that business, Corey Shapiro, in the face.


And early Sunday, a similarly dressed group was seen breaking windows of several businesses along Notre-Dame St. W. with crowbars and billiard balls. The vandalism was witnessed by many, as it happened shortly after midnight, when bar and restaurant patrons were still out in numbers.


“I’m asking people to stop,” Shapiro said in an interview with the Montreal Gazette on Tuesday. “I’m asking the city to come in and to stop this. It is no longer vandalism. It is terrorism. Somebody is terrorizing the neighbourhood.”


Montreal police say it is too early to say whether the two incidents are linked, but police spokesperson Sgt. Raphaël Bergeron acknowledged there have been a number of similar incidents in that area in recent months.


New condominiums along the Lachine Canal and the opening of the nearby Glen site of the McGill University Health Centre have been attracting wealthier residents to the area in recent years, and not everyone is happy about it.


In an anonymous article posted last November in — a website that describes itself as a non-sectarian source for news about and of concern to anarchists — “some anarchists” claimed responsibility for vandalizing several new businesses along Notre-Dame St. W.


The article describes with derision the “new foodie restaurants, high-end boutiques, art galleries and ‘drinkeries’ catering to the residents of all the canal-side condos, replacing the dollar stores and flea markets.” The post goes on to say, “we decided to render some of our disgust with gentrification by vandalizing two such examples with fire extinguishers filled with paint.”


One of those businesses named as targets in the post was Shapiro’s barbershop, Notorious, and another was Campanelli, a coffee shop and clothing boutique. Both were again attacked in last weekend’s vandalism, along with other nearby businesses.


Shapiro also owns an eyewear store called Vintage Frames Company on Notre-Dame St. W. and a half-dozen modest residential properties in St-Henri. But he says he is not in the business of pushing anyone out of the neighbourhood.


He said most of the people in the neighbourhood are happy to see new businesses.


“Some people aren’t. But the people who aren’t, in most cases, are targeting their unhappiness at the wrong people. I’m not responsible for wages or income. I’m not responsible for the world’s jobs. I’m responsible for the wages, income and safety of the people I employ.”


Shapiro admits he may be a particular target for criticism from anti-gentrification activists because he wears gold chains and drives a gold BMW. He says he got the car for free in a marketing deal with BMW and the gold theme runs through his businesses, but he is “not a rich man.”


He seems frustrated when asked how he proposes that the city solve the problem. He is a businessman who deals in eyewear, juice and hair, not a politician, he says.


“I don’t have the solution because this is not my forté. I mean, if the mayor comes to me and says that to solve this problem, he needs a powerful pair of glasses, I’m your guy. Or if he feels he needs a boost in the morning, I got him on the juice. Or if he feels people don’t like him or don’t take him seriously because he has a bad haircut, I’m the guy to cut his hair. But I’m not the guy to plan or tell anybody how to fix this.”


The mayor of the Sud-Ouest borough, Benoit Dorais, said he is already working on some potential solutions. First, he condemned the vandalism publicly and asked Montreal police to increase their surveillance of the St-Henri area.


But he also acknowledged that there is some resentment of the neighbourhood’s new, middle and upper-middle class residents and the businesses that cater to them.


More than half of the Sud-Ouest borough’s residents still live on incomes that fall under the poverty line, he said, and businesses that cater to that clientele are not actually being pushed out.


“The new businesses are mainly moving into vacant spots. You can still get hotdogs at the Green Spot, there are still pizza shops and Chinese food restaurants,” he said.


A diverse neighbourhood is a healthy neighbourhood, he said.


“We are working hard to have diversity; we need a diverse population with different points of view and different realities. If the poor are isolated it becomes very difficult to break the cycle of poverty.”


Dorais said he takes inspiration from Verdun, which has managed to maintain a diversity of businesses along the Promenade Wellington that cater to a wide range of income levels. Merchants associations, community groups and housing activists have to work together to find investors of all kinds for the neighbourhood, he said.


His administration also continues to push for more social housing, in order to ensure lower income earners don’t get pushed out of the borough by rising rents. The Sud-Ouest already has the highest level of social housing in the city, with almost 1,400 units built or authorized in the past five years, but the need is great.


François Saillant, of the social housing advocacy group FRAPRU, said gentrification of areas like St-Henri is undeniably a source of frustration for some longtime residents. But low cost housing is a big part of the answer.


Between 2011 and 2014, 1,259 condominium units have been built in the Sud-Ouest borough and only 343 private rental units. That means a lot of high-end housing eating up available space. Low-rent units are not a priority for developers, so the city needs to set aside land and properties for social housing before there is no space left for them, Saillant said.


The last provincial budget slashed in half the amount of new social housing units usually announced, from 3,000 new units announced in four of the last six years, the province announced only 1,500 units in 2015.


By not providing sufficient housing for low-income residents, the government is adding to social tensions, which can lead to violence, Saillant noted. FRAPRU recently ended its four-day camp-out for housing rights in various downtown Montreal locations. The group does not use violence or vandalism to get its messages across.


“It is not our way of doing things, but I do understand people getting frustrated and impatient when they see their neighbourhood developing in a way that pushes them out,” he said.


As for Shapiro, he just wants the attacks to stop, but he’s not about to close his businesses and give up.


“None of us will be scared away. It is just annoying and sad and unfortunate for people to express their anger this way.”

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> Last Friday evening, several masked individuals dressed all in black threw a smoke bomb into a crowd celebrating the opening of a high-end juice bar on Notre-Dame St. W. near St-Philippe St. One member of the group also pepper-sprayed the owner of that business, Corey Shapiro, in the face.


That is fucking nuts. Going way too far.

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