Unhappy Vancouver Canucks fans are rioting in downtown Vancouver, and there are reports of looters at The Bay.
Young people unhappy about the Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final broke windows at The Bay on Georgia Street and rioters were looting merchandise from the store.
Rioters danced around a burning van outside the store, tossing bottles into the blaze to create small explosions. A BMW was set on fire nearby, and an apparently drunken man jumped straight into the flames, falling back seemingly unscathed.
Eyewitnesses told CTV News that an angry mob had flipped over a police car near the intersection of Nelson and Granville streets, and that rioters were smashing windows at a pizza place nearby.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a statement condemning the rioters, calling the situation “disappointing.”
“Vancouver is a world-class city and it is embarrassing and shameful to see the type of violence and disorder we’ve seen tonight,” the mayor said.
“It is unfortunate that a small number of people intent on criminal activity have turned pockets of the downtown into areas involving destruction of property and confrontations with police.”
Vancouver Police Const. Lindsey Houghton told CTV News that the crowd downtown Wednesday likely exceeded 100,000, but he said that only a small minority were responsible for the widespread damage.
“The majority of people are still in good spirits,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve seen that group of people in downtown Vancouver trying to cause trouble.”
The Vancouver Police Department called in backup from nearby RCMP detachments to help control the riots, and the Cambie and Burrard street bridges were shut down to keep people out of the downtown area.
TransLink announced shortly after 9:30 p.m. that it was shutting down all bus service in downtown Vancouver, although SkyTrain and SeaBus were still running to take people out of the riot area.
Smoke from burning dumpsters and cars choked the city skies and rioters smashed windows at the Bay on Granville Street and at the Bank of Montreal branch at the intersection of Georgia and Homer streets.
As soon as the final whistle blew in the game, young men in the Georgia Street fan zone began setting off firecrackers, shouting “F*** Boston” and setting Bruins gear on fire.
Fans flipped a car out front of the post office on Georgia Street and turned over another truck nearby after the Canucks were trounced 4-0 in the final game. Another car was set on fire.
Other angry fans held signs reading “Riot 2011” and burned homemade Stanley Cups as the pandemonium spread through the downtown core. Some rioters flipped portable toilets, and there were early reports of head injuries as fist fights broke out throughout the downtown area.
A ctvbc.ca reader sent in a photo of a man in a Bruins jersey lying on Georgia Street, blood streaming from his face.
Riot police converged on the downtown area, setting off tear gas in some cases, but upset fans were throwing beer bottles and shoes at their plastic shields.
Before the game was even over, officers had restrained a teenager shouting “Let’s break windows” outside of the London Drugs at the intersection of Granville and Georgia streets.
Over at the MAC Cosmetics store on Robson Street, staff members were boarding up windows just to be safe.
The scene downtown bears unsettling similarities to the 1994 riots, when drunken Vancouver fans took to the streets after a Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers.