St-Henri patisserie Libertine Bakehouse was hit with graffiti all over its windows back in June, and while the owners could clearly identify one of the three people involved, they say Montreal police won’t look into it properly.
Co-owner Nick Kemball tells Eater that a man and woman were caught on video spray-painting Libertine’s windows in June, while a third man stood back, directing them. Unlike some other incidents of vandalism in the area, the individuals didn’t cover their faces — and Kemball says he and others recognized the third man as the bakery’s upstairs neighbour (the video showed all three returning to the upstairs apartment after the incident).
Kemball says the police were initially cooperative, and approached the upstairs neighbour to get names and phone numbers for the other two (it appears police didn’t charge the neighbour because he wasn’t directly caught painting the windows). The phone numbers and names led nowhere, and according to Kemball, that was the end of the road for the police.
“They came in [last week] and said ‘we have nothing on them so it’s time for us to close up the case.’”
For Kemball, a big issue is that the police didn’t even approach the neighbour a second time to ask for more details about the two culprits.
“It’s just pure negligence. It’s unconscionable that you can see people do this, and they can get off scot-free by handing out a phone number…it’s rare that something like this happens when you can track the individual.”
Eater has reached out to the Montreal Police for comment on the case.
Kemball acknowledges that the damage to Libertine was relatively small-scale, but said that it’s the principle of the issue that bothers him — that the police didn’t appear to meaningfully investigate what seems to be a straightforward case.
“I don’t want anyone’s head on a stake, [but] as someone who resides and runs a business in the Sud-Ouest I’d like to know the city is working towards making it a safe place…it sends a very clear message about how much our municipal government cares about small businesses.”
While anti-gentrification protesters have periodically been behind such incidents in St-Henri, it was never clear whether the incident at Libertine was grounded in the same sentiment — in any case, Kemball says the vandalism was senseless.
“Amongst all of this there are legitimate concerns like rent increases, [and] loss of the neighbourhood’s identity. But these acts of vandalism are essentially attacks on blue collar businesses. Small independent businesses like ours aren’t at the root of capitalism.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story described the individuals in the video as three men; one of the three was actually a woman.