Canada, Montreal, Media: Eight squatters arrested after reak-in at abandoned Montreal building

MONTREAL August 11, 2002 - (CP) - Eight squatters - with no place to live- were arrested Friday as they attempted to re-occupy an abandoned east-end building to protest a lack of affordable housing in Montreal. The city-owned Prefontaine Centre was the site of a similar protest last year, when a group of squatters was first invited and then thrown out by former mayor Pierre Bourque.

Montreal police arrested the latest group of protesters Friday evening, soon after the eight individuals jumped over a fence and climbed onto the roof of the building.

Several-dozen supporters cheered the squatters on from outside the fence.

The suspects face charges of breaking and entering, said Montreal police spokesman Yannick Ouimet.

"It appears there was some damage to the exterior of the building," said Ouimet.

"We're talking about a broken window and a broken-in door.

"They could be facing more charges but the investigation is still ongoing right now."

Several-dozen squatters occupied the same building last summer with the consent of city officials.

They were evicted a month later after fire officials determined the brick structure was no longer safe because barricades blocking off an unstable section of the building had been dismantled.

Seven people were arrested for allegedly obstructing justice.

Affordable housing has become a hot-button issue in Montreal over the past 18 months.

The city's rental vacancy rate is approaching zero and activists have pressed officials to set aside more apartments for low-income residents.

Jaggi Singh <

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