VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Almost 150 people required hospital treatment and close to 100 were arrested after rioters swept through downtown Vancouver following the Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Anna Marie D’Angelo said Thursday that three stabbing victims had been admitted and a man was in critical condition with head injuries after a fall from a viaduct. Rioting and looting left cars burned, stores in shambles and windows shattered over a roughly 10-block radius of the city’s main shopping district.
It was similar to the scene that erupted in 1994 following the Canucks’ Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers, but the latest violence shocked Canadians unaccustomed to such riots.
Police Chief Jim Chu said nine officers were injured, including one who required 14 stitches after being hit with a brick and some who had bite marks. He said 15 cars were burned, including two police cars. A local business leader estimated more than 50 businesses were damaged.
Chu called those who incited the riot “criminals and anarchists” and officers identified some in the crowd as the same people who smashed windows and caused trouble through the same streets the day after the 2010 Winter Olympics opened.
“These were people who came equipped with masks, goggles and gasoline,” Chu said. “They had a plan.”
In Boston, five men arrested during celebrations of the Bruins’ win appeared in municipal court Thursday. Police said one man encouraged a crowd near TD Garden to turn on police and dared officers to arrest him. Authorities said he shouted obscenities, took off his shirt and threw his belt at the officers. He was arrested on charges including inciting a riot.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said “organized hoodlums bent on creating chaos incited the riot” in his city, while city councilor Suzanne Anton said the rioting has shaken Vancouver and overshadowed the hockey team’s playoff run.
“I would never have believed that Vancouver would be a city where there would be looting,” she said. “I just feel such a profound sense of disappointment. We like to think we live in paradise here in Vancouver. It’s hard to imagine here.”
Anton said there was no loss of life or police brutality. She also said dozens of volunteers patrolled the city’s entertainment strip on Thursday, picking up debris and garbage.
One of the volunteers, Al Cyrenne, carried his broom downtown to clean up the damage.
“I’m all choked up,” he said, as he surveyed broken windows. “I can’t believe the scene. Just talking about it brings me to tears. I can’t believe the people of Vancouver would do this. It’s just a few idiots.”
While police said it was mostly young people responsible for the mayhem, an equally young crew turned up in jeans and rubber gloves, some with Canucks jerseys, ready to help clean up.
Dozens of remorseful and dismayed commuters crowded around the smashed display windows at the flagship Hudson Bay store, a historical building that was the first focus of rampaging looters Wednesday night. Someone had tacked a rough, hand-painted sign that read: “On behalf of my team and my city, I am sorry.” People waited in line to sign it.
Across the street at London Drugs, the windows were also smashed.
Wynn Powell, the president and CEO of London Drugs, estimated the damage there at $1 million alone. He said the looting wasn’t the random consequence of a mob mentality.
“The rioters attacked us for two hours before they got into the store,” he said. “They were down attacking the stores of Vancouver to try to steal product.”
Television footage showed a man being beaten after he tried to stop looters, who were seen grabbing T-shirts and anything else they could get their hands on. Young women were seen with MAC cosmetics, with one carrying out part of a mannequin. The landmark building was filling with smoke as people, their faces covered in bandannas, continued the violence.
The looters turned their attention next on a Future Shop store a few blocks away, smashing windows and flooding up the stairs to the second-floor store, only to turn around quickly. One witness said police were at the top of the stairs.
Sears and Chapters stores were also looted, their glass fronts smashed.
“What I’ve seen is a complete disgrace,” said Beth Hope, 28, who is originally from England but has lived in Vancouver the last two years. “I’m a Canucks fan, but my jersey’s in my bag. I’m ashamed to be a fan right now.”
NBA star Steve Nash, from nearby Victoria and the brother-in-law of Canucks forward Manny Malhotra, sent a Twitter message imploring fans to stop the violence. “We’re a great city and have a lot of class. Our team is great and our championship will come. Soon,” Nash wrote.
Some seemed to revel in the rampage, recording the vandalism on cell phones and video cameras. A few congratulated those who tried to attack police, and others erupted with cheers every time something was damaged.
Authorities asked that those with photos and videos upload them to a police website, and a Facebook group has collected images of rioters that could lead to arrests.
Ryan Arndt, who works in social media by day, was among the crowds of fans who packed the streets. He returned home as the crowd began to grow unruly and hours later created the public Facebook group to share photos of possible crimes being committed.