Vancouver mayor: Riots 'shameful'

June 16, 2011 at 8:11 PM
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 16 (UPI) -- Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson lashed out at rioters who gave the Canadian city a black eye after the Canucks succumbed in the Stanley Cup finals.

"This is disgraceful and shameful and by no means represents the city of Vancouver," The Province quoted the mayor as saying after the post-game violence broke out Wednesday night.

"We are dealing with a small group of troublemakers and they will be held accountable."

The Vancouver Courier reported city police Chief Jim Chu said Thursday preventing the mayhem, which included looting, fighting and the destruction of 15 cars, proved untenable despite advance planning.

"When a large number of criminals and anarchists have a common purpose and intent to break the law, it's very difficult to stop that," Chu said. "There was a plan in place that was derived from some very expert people who have trained and studied these incidents elsewhere in the world. Despite the best efforts of many, many police agencies, including ones that have tremendously higher number of resources than we have, riots still occur."

Nearly 100 people were arrested and more than that number were injured, including nine police officers, during the night with more expected as citizens called in tips and gave police videos of criminal acts, the Courier said.

"For those watching in disbelief and shock at home and wondering why police were not immediately arresting the looters, with apologies to business owners who became the victims of these criminals, our plan and our priority must always be the safety of the public over the safety of buildings and property," Chu said. "Our members temporarily left hot spots so they could regroup in larger units to have sufficient members safely encourage the crowd to disperse and to take assertive action when they wouldn't."

The rioting left downtown Vancouver resembling a war zone.

At least 100,000 people had crammed in the city to watch Game 7 of the finals against the Boston Bruins on large outdoor screens. In the final minutes of the game, which the Bruins won 4-0, the crowd turned angry and full-blown rioting broke out, Postmedia News reported.

Two police cars were torched, other vehicles were overturned and burned, stores windows were broken and looters rampaged through the stores. Numerous stabbings were reported and portable toilets were overturned and set afire, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

Police in riot gear responded and officers on horseback and with dogs worked at dispelling the crowds and pushing them out of the area.

Local media said the crowd was mostly 25 and younger. Earlier in the day, city officials ordered city liquor stores to close hours ahead of the game, but reports said the smell of alcohol and marijuana was thick as the game progressed.

There were also riots in Vancouver in 1994 when the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the New York Rangers.

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