Floyd, who was black, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. His death has sparked nightly protests in major U.S. cities.
“I have nine arrests for breaking and entering, one for armed assault, and one more for misdemeanor,” Montreal police spokesman Raphaël Bergeron told CTV News on Monday. “The investigation is ongoing this morning as there may be other information from stores that have been vandalized.”
Thousands marched through downtown Montreal on Sunday afternoon without incident, but Montreal police declared the gathering illegal about three hours after it began when they say projectiles were thrown at officers, who responded with pepper spray and tear gas.
Tensions flared after the formal rally had concluded and some demonstrators made their way back to the starting point downtown. Windows were smashed, fires were set, and the situation slid into a game of cat-and-mouse between pockets of protesters and police trying to disperse them.
Some were also seen looting local businesses, including a music store, a fast-food restaurant, and an adult erotic shop along Ste-Catherine St. E., not far from Montreal police headquarters.
Steve Haboucha, who cleared broken glass from the frame around the front window of his Koodo Mobile store on Montreal’s Ste Catherine Street on Sunday, said security video shows a stream of people entering the cellphone store and leaving with accessories over a 30-minute period.
About 10 police officers were there, standing on the broken glass, keeping guard outside. Haboucha said the police told him there were “hundreds” of stores that suffered the same fate along the route the protesters took.
A few kilometres west on the same downtown street, the loud pops of cracking glass echoed through the neighbourhood, preceding a group of people who turned their destruction onto seemingly random targets.
On one corner, a group used a metal construction sign and its steel stand to smash the window of a payday loan store. All along Ste Catherine, people smashed windows and looted stores, while trying to evade police.
The demonstrators gathered to denounce racism and police brutality—both in the U.S. and Canada.
The gathering drew Montrealers of all stripes and backgrounds, holding posters with slogans. Protesters chanted “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe”—which Floyd was caught on video saying as the officer knelt on his neck.
The Montreal rally followed one in Toronto on Saturday, which remained peaceful.
So too did Sunday’s rally in Vancouver, where thousands gathered outside the city’s art gallery, waving signs and chanting their support of the Black Lives Matter movement and Floyd.
But the violence and unrest that Montreal experienced on Sunday signals Canada could face the same destruction that has plagued U.S. protests this past week.
Protests have turned increasingly violent across the U.S., with widespread looting and destruction of property in many major cities. Disturbing footage of violent acts against business owners defending their property have also appeared on social media.
U.S. President Donald Trump has blamed anarchists, members of the left-wing militant movement Antifa, and the media for fuelling the violence. Trump announced Sunday that the United States will be designating Antifa as a terrorist organization, accusing the movement of perpetrating violence during protests over Floyd’s death.
Officials in several cities have warned that those who are raiding stores are not there to protest Floyd’s death, but to create chaos.
With files from The Canadian Press