Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Those Mild Canadians

As a fan of the city of Vancouver, BC, with relatives and a close friend there, and having enjoyed visiting several times, I was actually hoping their hockey team, the Canucks, might finally win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. However, the Boston Bruins had other ideas and blanked their Canadian competitors 4-0 in Game 7 of the championship series, one to remember.

Now, I think of Canadians as the kinder, gentler North Americans. Polite, considerate, covered by a national healthcare plan. So imagine my surprise to learn that there are riots rocking Vancouver tonight:

Even as the fans inside Rogers Arena erupted in boos as the coveted trophy was hoisted by the Bruins stars, crowds that had gathered downtown turned rowdy, setting some initial cars on fire, burning their fan jerseys and tossing debris. In less than an hour, confrontations grew as police in full riot gear began firing tear gas into the crowd and setting off flash bang grenades in an effort to disperse the crowd. CKNW News1130 radio reporters reported additional police were being sent into the city as officers attempted to seal off the downtown core.

As darkness fell, crowds overturned police cars and set more fires to private vehicles. One of the worst fires was in the lower level of a parking garage where an initial blaze spread to other cars, yet fire crews couldn't reach the fire because of the crowds. Live video from CTV showed young men jumping on cars fully engulfed in flames.

A news crew from KIRO TV in Seattle had to retreat into their live truck for their own safety. (KIRO TV photo)

Elsewhere, patrons attending a musical were told to stay in the theater to avoid the violence. There were also reports of businesses having windows smashed and other damage to shops, including the landmark store The Bay.

All that Molson beer making them sore losers? Turns out it's not the first time -- same thing when they lost the Cup in 1994:

After the NHL game was concluded, 50,000 to 70,000 individuals reportedly converged upon Downtown Vancouver. What initially was a gathering developed into a riot at Robson and Thurlow Street. This happened after an accident involving a man who fell from a lamp standard into the crowd below. The police, who were on bicycles, attempted to escort paramedics into the crowd. However, when the crowd attempted to take a bicycle from one constable, they retreated and warned the crowd to disperse. The riot squad congregated on Thurlow St. on the West side. Shortly after that the police fired tear gas into the crowd and people ran in all directions. As the police regained control of the streets, a police constable was left in front of major retail stores that had had their windows broken. Tear gas wafted through the open windows of residents of the West End that night, and St. Paul's Hospital placed guards at the emergency room entrance to prevent tear gas victims from entering, claiming there was nothing that could be done for them. Eventually, some bowls with water were placed outside by the security guards for those suffering from tear gas. The New York Times also reported on this event. [1] Total damage to the downtown core was estimated at $1.1 million CAD. Like other Robson and surrounding retailers, the then Eaton's department store had more than 50 of its storefront windows smashed.

Subduing the crowd required the efforts of both the Vancouver Police Department and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers. In all, 540 officers were directly involved with the riot. Many individuals were arrested and charged, and up to 200 individuals were injured.[2]

Our well-mannered Canadian neighbors.

Don't piss them off!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should see what they do when they win...