Boston Bruins players were escorted out of the city to the airport by Vancouver Police.
The riot started in front of the Canada Post Main Branch on West Georgia Street and spread to Granville Street. A man that tried to stop the crowd from burning a car was badly beaten (video below). The Bay, Sears, London Drugs, Future Shop and several other businesses in the downtown core were looted while cars were vandalised or torched. Several drivers abandoned their cars after their windows were smashed. There were reports of stabbings. One person is said to have fallen off the Georgia Viaduct and to be in serious condition.
Police response to the crowd was slow and muted, arriving about 45 minutes after the riot started. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Riot police was called in after two hours, but did not confront the rioters.
Although the RCMP and police reinforcements were called in from other municipalities, police was badly outnumbered and appeared to be standing down to avoid further provocation. Most fires burned for a long time, as firefighters waited for the crowds to disperse before going in.
Granville and Burrard Bridges, the two main arteries into Downtown Vancouver were closed and bus services cancelled. The only way out of downtown was the Skytrain, which operated only outbound.
An angry Gregor Robertson, Vancouver Mayor, denounced the violence saying it was shameful and disgraceful. He said only a small number of hooligans were responsible for this, and they would all be held accountable.
No announcement was made Wednesday night as to how many people were being treated for injuries at Vancouver hospitals. St. Paul's Hospital downtown was locked in to receive emergencies only.
As of midnight the crowds still had not dispersed, but seemed to be in a standoff with the police who occasionally fired canisters of gas to hold them back.
According to a CBC Television
report aired Wednesday night many people came downtown with Molotov Cocktails, so it appeared that the riot was a pre-planned event that had little to do with the game.
Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said Thursday close to a hundred people were arrested. He said the instigators, “thugs... anarchists... and criminals” appear to be the same people involved in the pre-Olympic demonstrations.
Hospitals reported about 150 people treated for various injuries including stab wounds and head injuries.
Vancouver Canucks issued an official statement condemning the violence.
Damage to businesses in the downtown core has not been assessed, but the worst hit are The Bay and London Drugs where looters walked out with expensive fragrances. London Drugs’ CEO said damage to his one store alone was about 1 million dollars. He said rioters attacked the store for two hours before looting began, which implies the question ‘Where the heck was the police?”