On Monday, members of the SPVM and Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal went to the campsite to evacuate the campers, a spokesperson for the City of Montreal told MTL Blog.
According to a statement released by concerned community groups, more than 100 SPVM police officers, including riot police, were dispatched. However, the SPVM did not confirm this information.
"We were shocked by yesterday's dismantling of the Notre-Dame campground and the disproportionate police intervention that accompanied it," reads the statement.
Evicting people from the homes they have created means isolating them from their communities and depriving them of their right to health and safety.
Émilie Roberge, project manager at TOMS
The groups that released the statement are L'Anonyme, Dopamine, the Réseau d'aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal, the Table des organismes communautaires montréalais de lutte contre le sida, Chez Stella and Comité BAILS.
In an email to MTL Blog, the City of Montreal said the fire department "issued an evacuation order to campers because of the dangerous nature of the site" after "several fires occurred," including one on December 5.
The city said the owners of the tents will be able to pick them up in March 2021 and "the people who were camping on the Notre-Dame site were referred to emergency accommodation resources of their choice."
But the community groups claim the city's reasons are "mere pretext to cover up Montreal's growing homelessness." And they cite "the violent and disproportionate nature" of the SPVM's response as further proof.
According to the community groups, the SPVM barred psycho-social support workers from the site, preventing them from aiding the campers during the dismantling.
"Evicting people from their camps and forcing them to move against their will does not solve the problem of homelessness in Montreal," said Martin Pagé, executive director of Dopamine.
The SPVM did not provide comment on its operation.
This article's cover photo was used for illustrative purposes only.