Riots, looting after Canucks’ loss
That’s it! It’s over! After almost two months of going gaga over hockey, it is finally over! We can all have a sigh of relief that the season ended. Frankly, the games took a toll not only on everyone’s emotions but on work and study schedules and pockets as well.
The seventh game was a deciding one since both teams had 3-3 wins each. I was contemplating on whether to watch the game downtown or just stay home. I chose the latter. I could not get myself to sit and watch the game even at the start. I was too nervous that I stayed in the kitchen all the time and ended up prepping two meals. I was praying for a goal the whole time I was there but whenever I pray for just one goal, the Bruins would score. I was thinking maybe there were so many people asking for it that the prayer angels were getting confused which city was asking for a goal. My eldest son who had a knee operation two weeks ago was in downtown watching the games on the streets. When the score reached 3-0, I sent him a text message asking him to leave downtown. It was a good thing he took my advice and went home.
In the end, the Vancouver Canucks did not take home the Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins won the seventh game with a 4-0 score. Although it was disheartening, I have to give credit to the Canucks for trying their best. They had played well this season. Tim Thomas, the Boston Bruins’ goalie was too hard to beat. He was just incredible! He was like the Hulk in total control of the game making it impossible for the Canucks to hit even a single goal.
Feeling bitter after the loss, I turned off the TV and went back to my chores. My daughter turned it on again after hearing from a friend that things have gone bad in downtown. I went to look and could not believe what I saw! There was a burning car in the middle of the street and people breaking the windows of the buildings nearby. In a short while, another vehicle was set on fire. Portable toilets have been overturned. People were throwing stuff to the policemen who were trying to control them. It was total chaos! I thought I was watching some events unfolding somewhere else. Is this really downtown Vancouver? I was so glad that I opted to go home and was able to convince my son to do the same. I cannot imagine how I would feel if he was caught in that riot knowing he would not be able to run because of his injured knee. The same riot happened in 1994 when the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup. People were worried that it might happen again and could not believe it would – not until this time.
The hours passed and it was evident that the police were still not in control of the situation. Later, store windows were broken and people started looting whatever they can get hold of. The Hudsons Bay Company was badly affected. Aside from the damaged windows and looting, the awnings were set on fire. As soon as the police came to take control, they scampered and reconverged on another location and started breaking the doors and windows. Sears, London Drugs and a few more shops suffered the same fate. Some salespersons who were still on duty tried to ward off the looters with fire extinguishers. Other kind hearted people who tried to stop the rioters were beaten up. The staff of St. Paul’s and Vancouver General Hospitals were kept busy with people coming in with different types of injuries. The riot lasted for about three hours with 17 vehicles torched in different locations and damages to properties worth millions of dollars.
It is most unfortunate that this happened in our city. The immature and irresponsible behavior of a few people had smeared the good image we built during the Winter Olympics. A lot of people expressed disgust over this incident stressing that the ones responsible were hooligans who had planned to cause trouble and not real fans.
Hundreds of volunteers headed downtown to help in the cleanup the following morning. The damaged windows have been covered with plywood and the debris from the burned vehicles were taken away. At The Bay, the plywood boards on the windows have turned into what is now called the Citizen’s Wall. People have started writing messages of thanks, denouncement of the riots, support for the Canucks and a lot more. Even the Premier of British Columbia and Vancouver’s mayor wrote their messages. A police car parked in downtown was filled with sticky notes expressing the people’s gratitude for their efforts during the riot. A salesperson from The Bay said someone came in and returned some of the stolen merchandise. The events that transpired the day after with the clean up, positive messages and good deeds are what clearly reflect the true spirit of Vancouverites. At the end of it all, we come together and rebuild what was lost and we rise again!
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