Vancouver police blame anarchists and drunken youth for riots

Vancouver police chief holds up a mask that was used by an "anarchist" arrested during the riot. Photo by Jenny Uechi

Vancouver police chief told media today that the riots downtown after the Stanley Cup final game last night was started by anarchists and made worse by intoxicated youth. 

"The rioters were criminals and anarchists equipped with goggles, masks and gasoline," he said. "They came with a plan." Chu said that the anarchists were the same people who caused problems during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He said 100 arrests were made so far, and that they intend to make many more as tips come in.

Chu said nine police officers were injured while containing the violence, and that two police cars were destroyed in the riot. He said that the Vancouver Police had managed a crowd that was three times larger than during the 1994 Stanley Cup riots, and that it took half the time -- around three hours -- to control the situation. 

Chu said that while anarchists were responsible for instigating the riots, the unrest was made worse by "younger people" -- often teenagers -- who were heavily drinking before becoming involved in the violence. He said that "parents have to answer" for the the damages caused by their children. 

Assistant chief Wade Pierlot of the Vancouver fire and rescue service said that the biggest obstacle for fire trucks last night was lack of access, due to large crowds blocking the roads. He said that there were 387 fire incidents in total, and that fire crews were asked not to use sirens in order to maintain a low profile. 

Reporters asked Chu repeatedly whether the Vancouver police should have taken more action to prevent the anarchists -- many were known to police -- from instigating violence. They asked whether the police was too passive in their response to the riots, and whether they could have predicted the unrest as the Canucks were close to losing the game against the Bruins.

Chu, who was part of the response team during the 1994 riots, said that police had to switch from a "meet-and-greet" tactic to "crowd dispersal" and that it had to prioritize the safety of the crowd. He said although "hundreds" of police officers were downtown, reinforcements took time to come in from other areas because they were initially were initially focused on regional policing. 

Chu said police had captured over 1,000 minutes of footage of the rioters and had were receiving many tips from the public who had photographed and videotaped the riot.

Objects used during the riots.

Here are some photos by VO photojournalist Joshua Hergesheimer of last night's police efforts to control the crowd: See more of his astonishing shots of the riot here:

 

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