A crowd infuriated by the last-minute cancellation of a punk rock concert tore through downtown Montreal, overturning cars and smashing into shops, police said Wednesday. Five people were injured.
Seven people were arrested in Tuesday night’s violence – one woman for armed assault, and five adults and one minor for mischief and disturbing the peace, police Inspector Yves Surprenant said.
“The event surprised us, by its magnitude and the speed with which it happened,” Surprenant said. At least 42 cars and 11 shops were damaged.
Some 1,000 people were waiting for the concert to begin when told at about 7:30 p.m. that the performers – bands named The Exploited and Total Chaos – were delayed at the U.S. border, witnesses said.
Most of the concertgoers left, but a few hundred started breaking car windows, turning vehicles over and setting them on fire. Many also vented their fury on nearby shops.
Philippe Yeung, who lives next to the concert hall, said he called police several times before they arrived more than 30 minutes later.
“When the police came, the cars were already on fire, they were already overturned and (the rioters) were moving up the street,” he said.
Riot police wearing helmets and shields eventually cordoned off several downtown blocks and the rioters fled.
Surprenant said it took time to assemble a force equipped to take on the rioters.
“We don’t have people at every street corner in Montreal. They’re spread all over the city and it takes time to get them all in one specific area and ready for action,” he said. “We’re not going to send in five officers to deal with several hundred people.”
Three police cruisers were damaged in the rioting, and three police officers and two security guards suffered minor injuries, according to police.