For Michael P. Farkas, the past summer has been trying. Too many cartridge cases have fallen to the ground in the Little Burgundy district, near the city center. “Before, the gangs clashed in an organized manner, there you never know where and when they shoot. “ Bullets even hit the window of a nursery. The children were not injured. “By speaking with young people, when you hear the reasons for the clashes… it’s crazy. They need very little to pull the trigger ”, tells, annoyed, this figure of the local associative world.
→ ANALYSIS. Canada bans assault weapons
In Montreal, the number of gun homicides has doubled since last year. 104 shootings have already broken out since January, compared to 41 for the whole of 2019. Michael sees the increase in gunfire as a Covid effect: “With the pandemic, the territory in which to make money has been reduced during lockdowns. Whoever was selling dope around the corner had to move to another location, and was able to walk on someone else’s flower beds. “
A theme at the heart of the race for the town hall
Bullets even whistle in the ears of a candidate in the municipal elections of November 7. Denis Coderre, already mayor from 2013 to 2017 and again on the track, says he heard gunshots bursting a few meters from him, while he was going door to door. For him, the campaign axis is all found: “Montreal is not sure. “
An arrow fired against the current mayor, Valérie Plante, candidate for re-election, who retorts that his opponent “Must stop scaring people”. While her rival is campaigning for an increase in police budgets and an increase in staff, she relies first on community police, with agents who would stay longer in the same neighborhood station.
→ REPORT. Guns and violence: the specter of a deadly summer in the United States
This trend is not unique to Montreal, however. In the United States, the number of murders jumped 30% last year, according to FBI data. For Francis Langlois, professor specializing in the history of firearms in Canada, Montreal could not remain unscathed: “There is a certain porosity. In Toronto, 85% of the weapons seized come from the United States. Even if the restriction measures are more important here, since the world’s largest firearms market is our neighbor, it has consequences. “
Gangs, also very active on social networks
The professor also notes a role, less and less underground, of social networks: “Now local gangs quarrel via Instagram, display their guns without embarrassment. It has become an identity. “ These threats posted online and the death of a young rapper this summer even led to the cancellation of a hip-hop festival last month in the suburbs of Montreal. According to police, gang members were drawn to groups at the event promoting guns.
→ READ ALSO. Legislative in Canada: bitter victory for Justin Trudeau
Without waiting for further measures from the authorities, Michael P. Farkas organized a peace march this summer: “The idea was to bring people together and also to send a message to the gangs who would like to vampirize our neighborhoods. There was a very large police force for the event. They had to understand that they are not welcome here. “