VANCOUVER – Almost 150 people required hospital treatment and close to 100 were arrested after rioters swept through downtown Vancouver following a Canucks loss to the Boston Bruins in the decisive 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 an unidentified man was in critical condition with head injuries after a fall from a viaduct.
She said most of the rioting victims were treated at St. Paul’s Hospital, while about 40, including the stabbing cases and the head injury patient, were being treated at Vancouver General Hospital.
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.
Police Chief Jim Chu said nine officers were injured, including one who required 14 stitches after being hit with a thrown brick. Chu said some officers suffered bite marks. He said 15 cars were burned, including two police cars.
He called those who incited the riot “criminals and anarchists” and said 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 in 2010.
“These were people who came equipped with masks, goggles and gasoline,” he said. “They had a plan.”
Chu said those who stood by and filmed and cheered also bear some responsibility.
Assistant Fire Chief Wade Pierlot said people had to be rescued from rooftops and bathrooms where they had hidden for safety. He said some people moved burning dumpsters away from buildings to prevent further damage.
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 when at first they didn’t, he shouted obscenities, took off his shirt and threw his belt at the officers. He was arrested on charges including inciting a riot and disorderly conduct.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said “organized hoodlums bent on creating chaos incited the riot” and noted the city proved with the 2010 Winter Olympics that it could hold peaceful gatherings. A local business leader estimated more than 50 businesses were damaged.
“They were here to make trouble and they succeeded,” Robertson said.
City councillor 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,” Anton 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.”
It was similar to the scene that erupted in the city in 1994 following the Canucks’ Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers.
Anton said there was no loss of life or police brutality in this latest incident. She 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 and debris on a downtown street.
“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 thugs responsible for the mayhem overnight, an equally young crew turned up in jeans and rubber gloves, some with Canucks jerseys, all carrying plastic garbage bags.
Dozens of remorseful and dismayed commuters crowded around the smashed and plywood covered display windows at the flagship Bay store, a historical building that was the first focus of rampaging looters Wednesday night.
Someone had tackeda 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.
Powell, sounding angry, 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. They were down attacking the stores of Vancouver to try to steal product.”
TV footage showed a man being beaten after he tried to stop looters from smashing windows at the Hudson Bay department store.
Looters were seen grabbing T-shirts and anything else they could get their hands on. Young women were seen escaping 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. For many, the ugly chaos made the Cup loss an afterthought.
“What I’ve seen is a complete disgrace,” said Beth Hope, 28, who is originally from England but has lived in Vancouver for 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 the 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 cellphones and video cameras. A few congratulated those who tried to attack police, and others erupted with cheers every time something was damaged.
Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed this report.