SBD/June 16, 2011/Sports in Society

Riots, Violence Break Out In Vancouver Following Canucks' Game Seven Loss

Riots in downtown Vancouver lasted for about four hours

Downtown Vancouver “descended into chaos" following the Canucks' loss to the Bruins in Game Seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Final last night, with rioters “burning cars and looting stores and brawls and fights breaking out," according to Austin, Cooper & Chan of Vancouver PROVINCE. Vancouver Police Const. Jana McGuiness “could not confirm any fatalities or whether any police officers were injured,” but said that there were “unconfirmed reports of four stabbings.” Vancouver police made “dozens of arrests, but could not provide an exact number.” Amid the chaos, very few businesses “were left unscathed and sidewalks were littered with shattered glass.” In addition, “ugly brawls tinged with a racial element were seen breaking out on Granville Street as late as 11 p.m. and a police chopper circled the crowd overhead as police attempted to take control of the melee.” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a press conference said he was disappointed by the “embarrassing” behavior. Robertson said that “a small group of troublemakers were responsible for the violence and mayhem -- believed to be worse than the Stanley Cup riot of ’94" after the Canucks lost to the Rangers. Police plan to set up a tip line or e-mail account today “so people can send in footage of the violence.” Outside Rogers Arena following the game, a man in a Bruins jersey “fell over 50 feet from the pedestrian walkway onto the ground below.” The man was “rushed to the hospital,” and his condition is “not yet known.” Austin, Cooper & Chan note the "flashpoint for the violence was when a group of drunk young men jumped on top of an overturned car” outside the Canada Post building. The men were “egged on” by others as they “doused the car with some kind of accelerant" and lit it ablaze (Vancouver PROVINCE, 6/16).

TROUBLE ON THE STREETS: Vancouver Fire Department spokesperson Gabe Roder said that police “ordered fire fighters to back away from two burning police cars because they felt they were in danger from rioters throwing objects” (VANCOUVER SUN, 6/16). SI.com's Tim Newcomb reports more than 100,000 fans "packed downtown Vancouver" yesterday afternoon to watch Game Seven in a fan-viewing area. The area “housed thousands who had camped out much of the day to watch the game on a giant screen" outside the CBC's Vancouver HQs (SI.com, 6/16). The disturbances began around 8:15pm PT, "soon after the game’s conclusion, and lasted about four hours” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/16).

ABOVE THE INFLUENCE? In Vancouver, Ethan Baron writes, “It’s official: We can’t be trusted to have a huge public celebration in Vancouver.” City officials “took a risk, inviting the multitudes downtown to enjoy the Stanley Cup run together, hoping there would be no repeat” of the ’94 riot. Baron: “They were let down. We, the citizens of Vancouver were let down. … The progress many thought we’d made since the 1994 riot, the evidence we provided during the 2010 Olympics that we could party en masse downtown, all that has evaporated in a city overcome by violence. Who among the public and officialdom will want to take a chance again?” (Vancouver PROVINCE, 6/16). The VANCOUVER SUN’s Ian Mulgrew writes, “We were supposed to wake today hung over from a Stanley Cup victory; instead the city opens its bloodshot eyes to the much sadder reality of a tarnished reputation” (VANCOUVER SUN, 6/16).

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