Squatters forced out of abandoned building in Point St. Charles
Published Saturday, May 30, 2009 5:24PM EDT
Montreal police have intervened to force dozens of squatters out of an abandoned building in Point St. Charles.
Members of a group called the Autonomous Social Centre had taken over the deserted factory on St. Patrick St. Friday night.
They are against plans to convert the space into condos.
"It's a neighborhood where there's a high rate of gentrification. Rents are going up, we're seeing cultural spaces being closed, and condo's going up," one frustrated resident told CTV Montreal's Daniele Hamamdjian.
Police said they repeatedly warned the squatters Saturday afternoon to leave the premises, and allege some people responded by spraying fire extinguishers at officers.
People who were in the building accused the police of using tear gas and pepper spray to force them out.
Residents want social centre, not condos
The Autonomous Social Centre, made up of about 50 volunteers, wants to turn the building into a social centre, which will allow them to continue the work they have been doing for the past two years.
Most recently, the volunteers started a free bicycle-sharing program. They have also created a centre for independent media, and an urban-agriculture program.
The group said it has plans for a community kitchen and a communal garden, and it will continue to fight for the space.