'We want our freedom': some young curfew dodgers in Quebec on their third or fourth ticket
MONTREAL -- Among those who have defied the curfew since it was reinstated to 8 p.m. are young people, even some minors, on their second, third and even fourth ticket for dodging the rules.
Despite everything, they say they will continue to protest.
Among them, two friends aged 15 and 16 were demonstrating on Saint-Catherine Street West Monday.
“We were demonstrating and the police caught us,” one of them told The Canadian Press, showing her ticket.
“We've been home like prisoners for a year, now it's summer, we want our freedom,” she said, adding that she will continue to defy the curfew “every day.”
The two teenagers also received a ticket the day before while participating in protests in Old Montreal.
There’s one thing setting high schoolers apart from the rest of the protestors: many of them don’t have jobs to pay the fines.
“The police officer has called my mother already, I think she is angry, but I don't care, I am fighting for my rights and I have no money anyway,” said the younger protestor while being ordered to return home by two officers.
A few minutes later, still on Saint-Catherine Street, a police officer scolded a young woman for giving her a false identity.
The young woman, who will be given a statement of offense for not having respected the curfew, explained to the officer that she does not like her real name. She argues with the officer, saying “she has the right to choose the name that pleases her.”
The policeman kept his cool, until he got her real name and checked her history.
“This is your fourth ticket for breaking the curfew!” he said.
The repeat offender, who told The Canadian Press that she was 19-years-old and her name was Sabrina, was also demonstrating for a second night in a row downtown on Monday.
She now owes $6,000 in fines. She says she doesn’t have a job.
“There is absolutely no point in the curfew because I will see my friends anyway, but if I have to pay, I will pay and I will learn from my mistakes,” she said while standing next to a friend on her third fine of $1,500.
At the same time, across the street, a group of young men smoked and chatted while watching the police hand out tickets.
One of them explained to The Canadian Press that they all have a certificate signed by their employer to let them stay out after 8 p.m.
“We’re smarter than them,” said one young man, pointing to a group being stopped by police.
The form only works if you have it with you, though. One young man learned that the hard way.
Nasser was walking alone when police gave him a ticket, but he swears he was just coming home after finishing his shift at a restaurant.
“I live in the area, but I forgot my certificate,” he said, adding that he will contest the $1,500 fine.
Since Sunday, the curfew has been changed from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Island of Montreal and Laval, until further notice. Youth aged 14 and over are liable to receive a fine of $ 500 while the minimum fine is $ 1000 for adults.
-- This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 14, 2021.