Thugs trash downtown Vancouver in night of mayhem
By Salim Jiwa
VANCOUVER – Police using teargas, pepper spray and batons had secured downtown Vancouver by 1 a.m. on Thursday after mobs of rioters trashed and torched cars, looted businesses and engaged in numerous fights following the Canucks defeat by the Boston Bruins.
While cops claimed the riots were the work of a small group of people, large mobs of hundreds could be seen breaking into the downtown Sears, Chapters and Futureshop electronic store and making away with goods.
Two police cars were first trashed and then torched. The cops cars were among dozens of vehicles destroyed by the mob which began a rampage before the end of the final Stanley Cup game.
Dozens of people were taken to hospital during the riot – with many needing treatment for pepper spray and other suffering from stab wounds resulting from numerous fights among the rioters.
Police called in reinforcements from neighbouring municipalities and were also joined by RCMP to bring the tense situation under control. Several downtown streets were littered with burned out cars and glass from smashed storefront windows.
Some 100,000 had stood on a downtown street corner to watch the game on a big screen – but the party went awry as the defeat of the home team appeared certain.
Police said last night they had prepared for the possibility of trouble and that they had a plan in place to deal with it. However, there was no intervention by cops as hundreds entered downtown stores and looted goods at will for several hours.
At times, it seemed police were outnumbered and mobs were undeterred by baton charges after cops read them the riot act.
There were unconfirmed reports of a number of stabbings and one death – but those reports had not been confirmed by police.
Vancouverites were disgusted by the violence which was beamed live around the world and watched as far away as Australia. KTLA TV broadcast a live streaming video of the riots on the Internet.
Const. Jana McGuinness issued a short statement shortly after midnight stating the streets were largely under police control.
“Police are reporting that most people have now left the downtown core. A heavy police presence remains in the area as officers work to secure evidence and ensure no other criminal acts take place,” she said.
Police are asking anyone with video evidence, photographs, or witness accounts to call the VPD Robbery Assault Squad at 604-717-2541 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thousands of pictures were taken by bystanders, police and television stations – potentially allowing cops to identify the rioters who face serious charges of break and enter, destruction of property, arson, assault with a weapon and public mischief.