Solicitor General Shirley Bond’s pre-game pleas to celebrate responsibly went out the window along with the Vancouver Canucks’ Stanley Cup hopes Wednesday night, leaving the city and the province to clean up and assess their crowd control strategy.
RCMP reinforcements sent in as post-game crowds turned violent failed to stop extensive damage and looting in downtown stores, and a Vancouver Police strategy of “meet and greet” by crowd control units with people watching on giant TV screens. As the mayhem was covered on live television, Bond urged thousands of picture-snapping spectators to go home.
Lessons learned from the 1994 Stanley Cup riot did not anticipate the impact of social media on crowds, which were invited to downtown “live sites” to watch in the tradition of the 2010 Olympics. Huge crowds of spectators delayed police and fire crews from stopping the looting and burning sparked by small, organized groups.
“I am disturbed that a relatively small number of people turned confrontational and engaged the Vancouver Police in such a negative way,” Bond said. “I expect that all steps will be taken to bring those responsible to justice. Members of the public will be able help the police and crown prosecutors by submitting any photos or videos they may have.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson also identified “a small group of troublemakers” as the primary cause.
Premier Christy Clark told CKNW radio Thursday that the review has to focus on the social media impact, and new technology that identifies people caught in video and still images will help identify the culprits.
“We have to make sure that the hard core group of troublemakers is punished,” Clark said.