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Montreal man fined $147 for sitting under tree on government property

By Mason White 1:32 PM August 6, 2013
Francois Gendron 

By: John Roberts
(Scroll down for video) A man was relaxing under a tree when police gave him a ticket for sitting there.

Like hundreds of other residents, Francois Gendron did not know that it is against the law to sit on grass in a public park in the downtown Ville Marie borough of Montreal, Canada.

On Monday, he sat under a tree when he was approached by a police officer. The officer initially asked him to move and get off government property. “They told me I do not have the right to sit on the grass in a public park. I agreed to move,” Gendron said.

But 10 minutes later, he went back under the tree because he was uncomfortable in the sun. When the officer spotted him under the tree for the second time, Gendron was slapped with a ticket of $147.

The officer told Gendron that they ticket homeless people for sitting on the grass so to be fair. They have to ticket everyone, the officer said. “I think it is very poor judgment,” Gendron said.

Gendron said he will fight the fine. One person wrote on the internet: “The rule is stupid, but he was warned by the police that it was illegal. At first, they let him off with a warning, but then he did it again anyway.”

The local police commander said that although this law has been around for over a decade they usually do not ticket people for sitting under a tree. But in this case, the grass in that park was recently redone and they don’t want people to ruin it.

After hearing about Gendron’s situation, several other young people said that they have received tickets for minor offenses such as spitting on the floor or flicking cigarette ashes to the floor.

A 26-year-old woman said that when she was pregnant and homeless, she received a number of tickets. The last ticket she got was for the amount of $356. The offense was spitting on the floor. The woman said that she is barely able to feed herself let alone pay a fine for spitting or sitting under a tree to cool herself down while living on the street.