Montreal police arrest 12 minors as Black Friday protests descend on downtown Montreal

Click to play video: 'Black Friday protesters strike downtown Montreal stores'
Black Friday protesters strike downtown Montreal stores
In Montreal, protesters took to a downtown store as shoppers looked for Black Friday bargains. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Nov 29, 2019

Montreal police have made 12 arrests after a protest in downtown Montreal on Friday evening.

Demonstrators from the group Extinction Rebellion staged a sit-in around 3:30 p.m. at the busy intersection of Peel and Ste-Catherine streets, where the sidewalks were full with keen shoppers eager for Black Friday deals.

The event, meant to draw attention to climate action, was held amid a large police presence.

“We’re here to protest mass consumption and government inaction,” said May Chiu with Extinction Rebellion Quebec. “We’re demanding the government work together to try to get to net-zero emissions by 2025.”

Chiu explained that mass consumption is depleting the earth’s resources and creating a lot of garbage in the process.

She cited fast fashion as an example.

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“It takes 20,000 litres of drinking water to produce one shirt and that’s just in the production,” Chiu said. “There’s also lots and lots of dangerous chemicals that are leaked into rivers and most of the factories are in the third world, poisoning families and children over there.”

Meanwhile, youth protesting with the group entered the premises of two downtown stores and refused to leave, gluing their hands to the windows.

First responders at the scene were eventually able to remove the protesters from the window displays.

Urgences-santé said it had an ambulance on site as a precautionary measure, but there were no reports of injury and no one was treated at the scene.

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The protest snarled rush hour traffic in the downtown core and wrapped up at around 7:15 p.m.

While police say the protest was peaceful, 12 people were arrested.

“They are all minors,” said Montreal police spokesperson Raphael Bergeron, adding they could be charged with mischief.

Earlier in the day, demonstrators with Extinction Rebellion used a megaphone on the sidewalk before heading into Best Buy alongside morning buyers.

READ MORE: Canadian shoppers turn to Black Friday for holiday shopping more than Boxing Day

The group said it was peacefully protesting excessive consumerism and that Black Friday exploits inequalities within society. Activists said that by making people aware of their purchases, they become aware of the source of what is purchased and the impact of their purchases on the environment.

“(Black Friday) encourages consumption and overconsumption of goods that will soon end up in the garbage,” said Elza Kepahart.

Protesters held up signs as they made their way through the store before security guards asked them to leave.

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The protest didn’t put a damper on the day for Remi Sammourin, the district manager of Best Buy.

The store makes 10 times the amount of money on Black Friday compared to a regular sales day, according to Sammourin. He said the day is comparable to Boxing Day.

“It’s a very important and it’s a very good day for customers and for us,” he said.

READ MORE: Lawmakers in France pass bill proposing a ban on Black Friday

— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and the Canadian Press

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