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Montreal businesses apologize after video shows man throw water on sleeping homeless person


Two Montreal businesses are apologizing after a video circulating on social media showed a man throwing water on a sleeping homeless person outside of a Chinatown storefront to get him to leave. 

A copy of the video was shared on Instagram by Kevin Calixte, who hosts the Rapolitik podcast.

The footage shows a woman bringing a metal container of water down the staircase of the storefront on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and handing it to a man, who dumps it on the sleeping man's face.

The man appears startled and jumps up.

"You've got to wake up, man. You've got to wake up," says the man who threw the water. "You can't sleep here."

'I recognize that what I did was wrong'

The scene unfolded last Saturday outside La Toxica Montreal, a Mexican restaurant, and the MTL Gaming Centre, both of which share the same address on Saint-Laurent Boulevard.

The restaurant said in a statement to Noovo Info that it was the owner of the gaming store who threw the water on the homeless man.

The owner, Nizar Awada, did not respond to a request for comment from CTV News on Monday afternoon.

His posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, were no longer publicly viewable on Monday, but according to a screenshot circulating online he published a post in which he said he was "truly sorry" about "the recent video I posted of me throwing water at a homeless person outside my business."

In the post, he claimed that the homeless man had a history of harassing his clients, but that "it doesn't excuse my behaviour. I recognize that what I did was wrong and unjustified," the post stated.

"I was insensitive and disrespectful to share such an act on social media. I deeply regret my actions and any hurt they may have caused. I acknowledge my mistake and commit to learning from it," the post went on to say.

La Toxica also acknowledged it was "the wrong thing to do."

"The owner of one of the businesses in the building, the Montreal Gaming Centre, asked for water to help him. He finally threw the water in the unconscious person's face in an attempt to wake him up," its statement to Noovo Info read.

The restaurant added that "we deeply regret having contributed to it. This gesture lacked humanity, and we sincerely apologize on behalf of our restaurant for not having acted differently or proposed another way of doing things. While it's not always easy to live together downtown, we believe it's essential to find better ways of living with people experiencing homelessness."

Mayor's office says video is 'shocking'

The video has sparked an emotional debate online about the state of homelessness in Montreal and the treatment of the city's vulnerable population.

"Imagine taking the time to go up the stairs, go fill a pot of water, go back down the stairs, ask your friend to film... when just waking the person up takes zero energy," one person commented on Instagram

"I'm outraged by this gesture," another person wrote. "Homeless or not homeless you treated this man with no dignity and disrespect."

"This is horrible! I’m sure he could’ve handled the situation better," reads another commenter.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante's office also weighed in on the video, calling it "shocking" and saying that "nothing justifies physical aggression of this nature."

"We are very sensitive to the challenges of social cohabitation experienced by shopkeepers, which is why appropriate resources are deployed on the ground," the statement read, adding that police or intervention workers with the Équipe mobile de médiation et d'intervention sociale (ÉMMIS) should be called for urgent matters related to the homeless population.

Benoit Langevin, a city councillor and opposition critic for homelessness and poverty at City Hall, called the man's action "unacceptable."

"Cohabitation may be difficult these days, but there's nothing that can justify this," he wrote on X. "We can never repeat enough that behind people in vulnerable situations, there is a human being. Let's raise awareness and help each other."

-- with files from Noovo Info. Top Stories

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