(Repeats without changes)
* Mayhem as NHL championship ended in Vancouver loss
* Officials blame "anarchists" "thugs" for trouble
* Scenes a reminder of 1994 Stanley Cup riot
By Allan Dowd
VANCOUVER, June 16 Vancouver responded with
shock and shame on Thursday after their team's National Hockey
League defeat ended in riots and broken glass, images that
shattered the Canadian city's peaceful reputation.
By mid-morning, scores of citizen volunteers were helping
city crews clean up the downtown mess, and a painted sign on a
board covering a smashed window at a Hudson's Bay department
store, read: "On behalf of my team and my city I'm sorry."
Boarded-up store windows and scorched pavement from burned
cars -- including two police vehicles -- offered evidence for
morning commuters of the Wednesday night's alcohol-fuelled
rampage by hundreds of young people.
The violence began in the closing moments of Vancouver
Canucks' 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in the deciding seventh
game of the Stanley Cup NHL Championship, a series that
Vancouver had been favored to win.
Police blamed "criminal anarchists and thugs" for inciting
violence, and said some had been part of groups that attempted,
without much success, to disrupt the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The Games included a few skirmishes with police, mostly at
the start. But they ended in a jubilant carnival atmosphere of
red and white, Canada's national colors, as Canada's team won
the gold medal in ice hockey in the final event of the Games.
100 ARRESTS, MORE TO COME
About 100 people were arrested in Wednesday's rioting, with
more arrests expected after police pore through cellphone
images from witnesses. About 150 civilians and nine police
officers were hurt and at least 50 stores damaged or looted.
But the longer-term cost could be in damage to the
reputation of the normally laid-back Pacific Coast city, which
won praise for its handling of the 2010 Games and the mass
street parties that accompanied them.
"It is very unfortunate that the actions of a small group
of people who were here to commit crimes and cause chaos should
somehow define who Vancouver is," said Mayor Gregor Robertson.
"It does not define who we are as Vancouver."
More than 100,000 people had jammed into the heart of
downtown Vancouver on Wednesday night in the hopes of
celebrating the Canucks' first Stanley Cup win.
But instead of an Olympics-style street party, the ugly
scenes brought back memories of a riot that erupted when
Vancouver lost the Stanley Cup finals in 1994. Rioters threw
bottles, attacked parked cars and smashed store windows.
"I think the people involved came down to to fight. Even if
Vancouver had won this would have happened," said John
Revington, supervising cleanup at an electronics store.
Witness reported seeing people with knives and other
weapons. Fifteen cars were burned, and police said some people
came armed with Molotov cocktail gasoline bombs.
Thousands in the crowd watched without joining in the
violence, and authorities hope to use their cell phone pictures
and videos to make more arrests.
"If you were a part of this... I promise you will not be
able to live in anonymity," British Columbia Premier Christy
Clark said as she toured the damage area.
Police defended their response, but admitted the large
crowds, many of whom were trying to escape the violence,
hampered their ability to respond to troublemakers.
Just one year ago Toronto, Canada's largest city, was host
to similar violent scenes on the sidelines of two international
summits. Criticized the first day for allowing rioters to smash
windows and torch cars, police came down hard the second day,
only to face even tougher complaints about mass arrests.
(Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Janet Guttsman)