Drunk, oversized crowds overwhelmed police, Stanley Cup riot review says
Larger than anticipated crowds and alcohol consumption fuelled the riot that erupted in downtown Vancouver following the Stanley Cup on June 15, according to the co-chairs of an independent review into the incident.
The report released today (September 1) indicates that the 155,000-person crowd viewing the game at the live viewing sites in downtown Vancouver “arrived hours earlier than civic and police personnel had planned for”, overwhelming security efforts.
But in their review, John Furlong and Doug Keefe also found there were problems with the pace of police deployment, the transition to riot gear, and "command confusion on the street" on the day of the riot.
"The deployment was a deployment that began very slowly early in the afternoon, and the fans arrived long before most of the police," Keefe told reporters at a press conference.
He noted that in some cases, it may have taken up to 40 minutes to get officers into tactical gear due to the crowded streets and due to the location of the gear.
The report, for the first time, reveals the number of police officers that were deployed on the streets of downtown Vancouver the night of June 15. The initial number was 446 police, not counting the regular downtown patrol, while the full deployment reached 928.
Despite finding that the Vancouver Police Department's plan "ought to have contemplated fans arriving early at Game 7 and required an appropriate response", the co-chairs argue that "there were too many people, not too few police."
“No plausible number of police could have prevented trouble igniting in the kind of congestion we saw on Vancouver streets that night," they wrote.
Furlong and Keefe determined that Vancouver police “had a good plan” to police the game and the aftermath. The trouble, they claim, was when people arrived earlier than expected, “and great numbers were drunk when they arrived or drank openly after they got there”.
“Essentially the City core became a stadium holding 155,000 people but without resilient infrastructure, time, or capacity to manage the crowd,” they wrote.
They also claim that the key conditions that led to the riot were congestion and “free-flowing alcohol”.
“Alcohol fuelled nasty behaviour and triggered law breaking that surprised and galled us all,” they wrote, noting that there was open drinking on transit on the streets.
In their report, Keefe and Furlong outline 53 recommendations for future public events in the city.
Among their recommendations, they suggest there should be a ‘regional event public safety plan’ established for regional events, that the City of Vancouver form its own “major event planning team”, and that TransLink lead a process for developing best practices for alcohol interdiction on and around its system.
They also suggest that the B.C. attorney general should establish a process or special court to deal with the prosecution of people accused of a riot-related criminal act, and they urge the NHL to partners with host cities to ensure “the best, safest public celebrations possible”.