Montreal Canada: Who will Restore our City's Reputation?

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent IMay 14, 2010

I am pleased at the support received on the short article titled, "Fans Celebrate, Criminals Loot," and photos of Wednesday night's rioters who vandalized and looted shops on Ste-Catherine street.

Most readers were disgusted by the behaviour that was self-explanatory when viewing the photos.

It also concerned many of us that this quickly became an international story that has tarnished the image of the city where we work and live. Even more disturbing is how the crimes were attached to hockey, the sport we love, and to our beloved Montreal Canadiens.

With public opinion seemingly galvanized around preventing this from happening again, a solution should be straightforward.

In Montreal, we recognize that the celebrating fans and rioters are two distinct groups.  That's not to say that all Canadiens' fans are angels. 

We know there are morons in the fan community who do things like boo anthems, so it's safe to say that a small number may have been tempted to join the ranks of the committed anarchists.

Sylvain Brouilette, an Assistant Director with the Montreal Police Service said that of the estimated crowd of 50,000 people who were celebrating after the Canadiens series win, a small number went afoul with the law.

"It is only 500 people who became criminals," said Brouilette.

It's somewhat surprising then that, less than 10 percent of the so-called "criminals" were detained by police. A total of 41 arrests were made including six minors. Of that total, all but a handful were released on Thursday.

It was clear that the groups who engaged in the criminal behaviour used the fan celebration to provide escape routes into the mass of people.

They also knew that the police would already have their hands full with the large celebrating crowds and would be less inclined to use force with the large number of people downtown.

The motivation for the criminal behaviour seems simple enough: they can do it with minimal consequences, if any.

One must feel empathy for merchants in the area who expressed that they feel powerless.

Claude Trudel is the point man for the City of Montreal as Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee. He expressed approval at the way the event was handled by the police force. But shockingly, Trudel described the incident as "inevitable."

If that was true, the news would be filled with similar stories from major cities across North America on a daily basis. Of course, it's nonsense. Montreal, is the city that now has a reputation for sports rioting.

With Trudel washing his hands of any responsibility for the incidents or a solution, it's little wonder why they continue.

I'm not sure if it was a lazy response, a disingenuous one, or just not a very intelligent remark. Trudel's message to the business community seems to be that riots are the cost of doing business in downtown Montreal.

If you aren't troubled by a city official calling rioting in Montreal "inevitable," listen to his his next remark. I find it alarming.

Trudel said that, in the future, "merchants must protect themselves by whatever means they can think of."

In our previous story, one of our commenters suggested that store owners should occupy their property with a shotgun.

Yes, that's all we need is Old West justice in downtown Montreal. But strangely, Trudel's statement could be interpreted as supporting such action.

As upset as I was about the criminals that occupied our downtown on Wednesday night, I am very disappointed at the response by the City of Montreal. Unfortunately, until this matter is addressed by capable individuals, this ugly, dangerous and costly problem is likely to continue.

A closing note on comments.

At All Habs, we publish most every comment from our readers. We encourage you to express your views. There is an approval step for comments that is in place to catch spam. Whether a reader offers a compliment, criticism or a differing view, it is posted.

We value diverse perspectives from our writers and readers.

However, every now and then, there is a comment that is not approved usually for profane reasons.

On the recent article, "Fans Celebrate, Criminals Loot," several comments were rejected for racist views and language. Sadly, in my opinion, it was too many.

It is very discouraging that in 2010, there are people who cling to the archaic belief that a certain segment of Quebec are an entitled group and should receive preference above all others. 

Being intolerant, inflexible, and wishing to build walls along provincial borders is wildly out of step with today's integrated and open global community.