“We talk about what we endure and it’s as if we are not believed”: cameras to denounce the hell they are experiencing

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

Victims of harassment, vandalism and break-ins by users of hard drugs, exasperated residents of a downtown building equipped themselves with a surveillance camera system to document their ordeal in the hope that the images will finally lead decision-makers to help them.

I devoted a column to this deplorable situation on Berger Street, nicknamed “crack alley”, last October. Nothing has changed since. For residents of the low-cost apartment building A Roof in the City, the inconvenience is perpetual.

Across the street, the Cactus organization carries out its humanitarian mission of ensuring that hard drug users can inject safely and receive clean consumption equipment. It’s outside its walls that things get tough.

“Waste everywhere, dirty syringes, screams in the middle of the night, fights, shouting matches, flashing lights all the time, crowds of crack smokers blocking entrances and exits, break-ins to sell or consume in the basement is the daily reality of our residents 365 days a year,” laments Guy Robert, president of the organization’s board of directors.

“Cactus workers have shifts and vacations. But there is never any respite for our residents, trapped in the situation. It’s the torture of gout.”

Document attacks

Two weeks ago, Un roof en ville installed a comprehensive surveillance camera system that covers doors, entrances, stairs, corridors, etc.

“One of our residents was hit in the back with an iron bar last fall and one of my 74-year-old neighbors was pushed and thrown to the ground by someone who was entering by force, so the police said that if we want to be able to identify the criminals, it would help to have images,” Hortense, a resident who herself had trouble with crack smokers who refused to leave her entrance on last Saturday February 10.

“I ended up losing patience because they were asking me to use another door where of course there were also people who didn’t want to move.”

“We talk about what we endure and it’s like we’re not believed. People have the nerve to say that we suffer from “not in my backyard” syndrome, but it’s not in our backyard that it’s happening, it’s in our faces, it’s in our driveways, in our corridors and it keeps us awake at night,” says the elderly woman who, to take her trash to the basement, pairs up with a neighbor so as not to venture there alone.

On the night of February 21 to 22, just after my visit, a man entered the building.

“Photo A Roof in the City”

In the basement, broken globes bear witness to the habit of tearing them off and then removing the bulbs and plunging the corridor into darkness… in order to smoke in peace and sleep.

“Often, the one who manages to get in lets his whole gang in. And there are around ten at the bottom. You have to call 911. The other day there was a gigantic turd on the fire escape and it stank throughout the building.”

During the night, after my visit to Hortense’s, the metal astragal of the front door was twisted.

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The astragalus of the front door has been twisted…

“Photo A Roof in the City”

An intruder has wandered the corridors.

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An intruder walks through the stairwell at night.

“Photo A Roof in the City”

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

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