April 17, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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“We talk about what we endure and it's like we don't believe it”: Cameras condemning the hell they're going through

“We talk about what we endure and it's like we don't believe it”: Cameras condemning the hell they're going through

In Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier often travels on the run, in his desk bag, looking for fascinating subjects and people. He talks to everyone and is interested in all walks of life in this urban chronicle.

Victims of harassment, vandalism and break-ins by hard drug users, residents of a downtown building have fitted themselves with a surveillance camera system to document their ordeal, hoping the images will eventually lead decision makers to help them.

Last October I devoted a column to this grim situation on Berger Street, nicknamed “Crack Alley.” Nothing has changed since then. For residents of low-cost apartment buildings in the city, the disruption is permanent.

Across the street, the Aloe organization does humanitarian work ensuring that serious drug users have safe access to needles and clean consumption equipment. It's outside its walls where things get tough.

“Litter everywhere, dirty needles, screams in the middle of the night, fights, shouts, matches, always flashing lights, mobs of speeders blocking entrances and exits, selling or consuming in the basement is a daily reality. Our residents 365 days a year,” laments Guy Robert, chairman of the organization's board of directors.

“Cactus workers have shifts and holidays. But there is never any respite for our residents stuck in the situation. It's the torture of gout.”

Document attacks

Two weeks ago, Un roof en ville installed an elaborate surveillance camera system covering doors, entrances, stairs, corridors, etc.

“Last fall one of our residents was hit in the back with an iron bar, and a 74-year-old neighbor of mine was pushed and thrown to the ground by someone who forced his way in, so the police said we should if we want to. If we can identify the criminals, it will help to have the pictures,” Hortens, last A resident had a problem with crack smokers who refused to leave his entrance on Saturday February 10.

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“I lost patience because they told me to use another door, and there were definitely people who didn't want to move.”

“We talk about what we're putting up with, and we're not convinced. People have the nerve to say we're suffering from the 'not in my backyard' syndrome, but it's not in our backyard, it's in our faces, it's in our driveways, on our porches and it's keeping us up at night.” The old woman teams up with a neighbor to take her trash to the basement so she doesn't have to go there alone.



On the night of February 21-22, after I left, a man entered the building.

“Photography of a Rooftop in the City”

In the basement, broken globes testify to the habit of tearing them out and then removing the bulbs, plunging the porch into darkness.

“Most of the time, the guy who's able to get in lets his whole gang in. And there's about ten downstairs. You have to call 911. There was a big turd in the fire escape the other day, and it smelled all over the building.

At night, after I went to Hortens, the metal astragal of the front door was twisted.



Figure 1

The front door frame is twisted…

“Photography of a Rooftop in the City”

An intruder wandered the corridors.



Figure 1

An intruder walks up the stairs at night.

“Photography of a Rooftop in the City”

As for the front portico, no surprise: it had a crowd of crack smokers. Unfortunately, the Un Toit en Ville organization is at risk of quickly “recouping” the $15,000 it invested in its surveillance system.

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