Monday, December 26, 2011

Vancouver Riots - Stanley Cup 2011


June 15, 2011, Vancouver, Canada, the site of the seventh and final game of the 2011 Stanley Cup. The series between the two Hockey Teams, the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks was tied at three apiece..

The City had set up a "Live" site in downtown Vancouver and encouraged people without tickets to the final to come downtown and watch the game on large TV screens set up for the purpose. The capacity of the "Live" site was 31,900. It reached capacity and hour and twenty minutes before the drop of the puck. Yet, The SkyTrain, the inbound Transit System was arriving every 90 minutes bringing as many as 500 people into downtown Vancouver.

Scott Jones, an Australian in Canada since October 2010 on a Work Visa and his girlfriend, Alex Thomas, a Canadian Citizen arrived on one of the SkyTrains. They headed to the apartment of friends to view the final game of the Stanley Cup series with friends.

The Bruins took an early one-point lead. About 6:30 p.m., the Bruins scored a second goal. Before the end of the Second Period, the score was Bruins 3, Canuks 0. Midway through the Third Period fans gathered at the "Live" site were throwing bottles at the big screen televisions. Shortly thereafter, about 7:18 p.m., 30 or 40 people were reported fighting in the streets. Twelve minutes later, 911 operators were getting calls of "rioting in the streets".

The final horn sounded at 7:45 p.m., with a Boston victory of 4 - 0. Cars were turned over and set afire. Explosions were heard. Vancouver Police Officers were ordered to put on riot gear. Fire crews were mobbed, shots were fired, the situation grew worse by the minute. A sea of angry mobs were filling the streets as far as the eye could see. Trash cans were blazing, overturned cars were burning and you could hear the Boom! of explosions occurring all over downtown Vancouver.

Scott Jones and Alex Thomas observed some of the rioting from the balcony of the apartment where they had viewed the game. At first, curious and then frightened; they decided they should get a train out of the downtown area. They left the safety that the apartment afforded and went out into the streets to find their way home.

Rich Lam, a freelance photographer had been in the hockey arena all night. After the presentation of the Stanley Cup he ventured out into downtown Vancouver to cover the rioting. He emerged to find an apocalyptic scene on Seymour Street; cars overturned and burning, store windows smashed, looters helping themselves to expensive merchandise. A squadron of Police stood at the end of the street in full riot gear.

At the end of the street Police were massing, forming a "running line". Officers, arms locked with Shields and batons running for 50 yards to push a crowd back. Scott and Alex had unknowingly placed themselves in the path of the oncoming police. Alex Thomas turned to run, but when the police charged she fell. Before Jones could pick her up, the line was on top of them, hovering, batons raised. "Please stop!" Thomas yelled while Jones covered her and cops pressed them down with their Shields. After a few long seconds the officers moved on, leaving the street which had moments earlier been filled with hundreds of people empty; that is except for Thomas and Jones. She lay on her back, crying hysterically. Scott bent over her, trying to comfort her.

Rich Lam had been on Seymour Street and ran ahead of the riot police, then taking shelter in a store front as they passed. He looked down the street in the direction that the police were moving and he saw a couple lying in the street. She was crying, he was trying to comfort her. Then, in a moment of tenderness, he kissed her. Lam raised his camera and fired off too quick shots. Working without flash in extremely low light; the dim fluorescent light from a parking garage and the orange glow of fires, It was amazing that he captured anything at all. The photo garnered International attention.

Scott Jones and Alex Thomas now live together in an apartment in Melborne, Australia.

And so it goes...

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