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Hockey Riot – A Front Line Officer's Perspective

Ed.’s Note: For privacy reasons all names have been removed

I was assigned as Acting Sergeant for Section 1 Squad 1. Members attended for briefing at 1500 hrs. And subsequently deployed at live site at Hamilton and Georgia. The squad was deployed as published in the ops plan with no changes to the roster.

The crowd was extremely large and densely packed. It was difficult to move through the crowd due to the dense population at that location. Initially the squad moved through the crowd moving people off lamp standards awnings etc. After a time people began to direct our attention to the south west corner of Hamilton and Georgia saying people were being crushed there. The squad moved to that area where indeed people were being crushed by the crowd, people were not being disruptive as much as the crush was being caused by the sheer number of people in that area. In fact the squad was being crushed as well it was impossible top move through the crowd. Numerous people were in distress, medical and otherwise due to the crush of the crowd. There was serious panic and anxiety in the crowd as people were trying to escape it as others were still trying to push in from the back.

The squad with assistance from building security was able to move to the doors of the library square building on the south west corner and get a door open and escape into the building. From that point the squad was able to extricate people from the crowd with medical issues small children and those who simply wanted to get out of the crowd as it was not safe.

The medic embedded with squad. X ray 911 treated numerous people for a variety of issues including exhaustion, anxiety injured ankles. Etc.

An elderly couple (the husband had Parkinson’s) trapped in the library were escorted out to their hotel at Georgia and Beatty by 2 squad members.

1845 hrs. I ordered the Library square gates to the live sight to be closed and only allow people to exit.

The plaza was also patrolled by the squad at this time. Numerous people removed from lamp standards and porta-potties. 2 of these parties climbed the traffic light standard on the southeast corner of Georgia and homer and climbed so far out they were actually over the #1 lane. As we moved in to remove them squad ½ was already there. As we turned around our attention was drawn to a fight on the plaza. I and other members of the witnessed 2 males punch a victim who was knocked out these parties were arrested and removed from the crowd, the medic attended to the victim who was unconscious. An investigative unit was requested and Det  attended. A B.C.A.S. gator was requested but never arrived. U/s was never advised it was not coming. We eventually obtained a back board stretcher and removed the victim to inside the Library Square building where a security first aider assumed treatment until arrival of ambulance. While dealing with this another male was hit on the head with a bottle which apparently was dropped from several stories above. He was given first aid by building security.  Who tended him until ambulance arrived.

The squad then moved out to assist a section 2, squad who called for cover, while enroute we observed a male throw a bottle at the P.SU. Squad on Homer hitting a member’s shield. This party was arrested re breach. As it turns out this party was one the males who earlier had climbed out on the traffic light. While putting this party in the wagon we acquired Cst.  X ray 124 who was separated from her squad.

I then directed the squad to move north on Hamilton. To Dunsmuir and support the P.S.U unit on Homer from the north while enroute, we passed our van and were able to gear up with helmets sticks and shields.

I directed Cst. to drive the van out of the area to a safe place where it would not be vandalised.

The squad joined up with section 2 on Homer north of Georgia and engaged the crowd there. Moving it using running line tactics.

From that location along with others, P.S.U. and patrol. Using running line tactics, the squad moved the crowd east along Georgia to Hamilton,  during this time being subjected to numerous attacks and missiles from the crowd.  The crowd attacked police numerous times employing sections of the mobile fencing. A car had been lit on fire on the north side of Georgia and was fully engulfed creating another hazard. Once on the east side of Hamilton,  the squad with assistance from another unit cleared the crowd off the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and moved those people north on Hamilton to Dunsmuir where they began to disperse.

The Squad then moved east on Dunsmuir to Cambie and then cleared the crowd out of the parking lot on the south east corner while doing so we encountered and engaged a large group flipping cars over in the parking lot. These people were dispersed from the crowd. Another car was lit on fire in this lot, by persons unknown.

The squad then linked up with X ray 300 A/S/Sgt on Georgia at Cambie and were relieved by an Rcmp tactical troop. The squad then moved west on Georgia to Seymour, and with other units and mounted moved the crowd to Granville. At Granville the squad linked up with x ray 200 A/S/Sgt. . And moved north on Granville to Dunsmuir where we assumed control over the intersection. Police units (now known to be transit units) further north appeared to be having trouble with The crowd there. X ray 200 moved there with mounted to assist them

I directed my squad to move the crowd south on Granville and did so employing running line tactics. We then joined other units and continued the push south to Smithe and then east to Seymour.

The squad was then directed to Howe and Robson and linked up with the rest of section 1.

The section then moved the crowd south on Howe Squad 1, My squad wheeled west on to Helmcken and dispersed the crowd west to Burrard.

The squad was then directed to Nelson and Granville to link up with the rest of Section 1 And then move to Smithe and Granville where eventually we were stood down.

One party in particular engaged the squad numerous times. This party was constantly attacking members grabbing shields, challenging members, throwing his hands in their faces.  He was very persistent refusing to leave the area after numerous warnings. We Encountered him first on Georgia ST. in front of the Post office. Then at Queen Elizabeth plaza. Then in front of the Bay on Georgia then again at Granville and Dunsmuir. This male was intent on fighting with the police. He was never Identified but is described as:

White male 6’ 180 lbs Dark hair, scraggly beard wearing blue Greece soccer jersey with white stripes on the shoulders and brown shorts.

The following members of squad 1 section 1 suffered minor injuries:

Cst  struck on knee with bicycle.

Cst.  struck on knee with large heavy metal object used to support mobile fences.

Cst.  side neck swelling and contusion caused by blast bomb.

Cst. abrasion to rt elbow.

A/Sgt  struck on L knee with large heavy metal object used to anchor mobile fences.

Cst. bit on l under arm by suspect causing broken skin and bruising.  

Every member of this squad conducted themselves throughout the night and extremely challenging times with the highest level of professionalism and courage. I as their squad leader am very proud of them all.