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Vancouver riot review: Your thoughts?

September 1st, 2011 · 48 Comments

The disappointment in the room of reporters who faced John Furlong and Doug Keefe was almost palpable this afternoon when the report turned out to contain no searing indictments of anyone’s favourite target.

The big problems, they kept saying over and over, were 1. too much uncontrolled alcohol, which shutting downtown liquor stores did nothing to stem 2. the number of people who poured into downtown, propelled by the region’s excellent and efficient transit system and 3. police being overwhelmend by the unexpected levels of 1 and 2.

In spite of lots of questions from various people, the two stayed on track with a “let’s all learn from this” message, refusing to go after the city, the police, Rogers Arena and its beer-serving policies, TransLink, the bars, or anything else that reporters pressed them on. The only group not to get a pass were the “thugs and villains” who came down intending to make trouble.

There’s lots of reporting and analysis out there already in the various MSM reports, blogs and tweets, so I’ll simply post the report itself, along with statements by the police chief and mayor and await your comments.

The report

The chief:

Chief Constable Responds to Riot Review
Good afternoon and thank you all for coming.
I have reviewed the review and I would like to say how impressed I am with the efforts of the co chairs John Furlong and Douglas Keefe.
It is very impressive that they have been able to produce such a complete and insightful examination of what happened on the night of June 15th.
On behalf of all the men and women of the Vancouver Police Department and our sister agencies I also want to thank them for the moving dedication of the report “to those people who took back the streets.”
I am also going to include in that group, because I am sure the authors intended it so, the number of good people who resisted the rioters, came to the aid of the injured and helped to protect victims and property.
I think it is also important to remember the victims at this point who are still seeking justice and answers to those questions. I hope that they will see this review as another step closer in achieving that ultimate resolution.
The question we have all asked, including myself, is there anything we could have done differently to ensure that there would not have been a riot? And secondly, is there anything we could have done differently to stop it immediately before it could get started?
Sadly it would seem that there is no magic solution to protect ourselves from those intent on creating this type of harm.
Many of you have expressed an almost obsessive interest in the number of police we had on the street that night. I have always told you that we don’t discuss the numbers for security reasons. Why would anyone want to give riot instigators more aid to commit their crimes?
The review of course reveals the number and the fact that it was doubled in less than two hours but it confirms that there is no plausible number of police that could have prevented what happened.
We know in hindsight that some mistakes were made but I’m pleased to see the reviewers concluded that none of the mistakes would have made a substantial difference that night.
We have completed our own review addressing many of the same issues from this document and will be sharing that with you and the Police Board on Tuesday.
We will be looking at all the recommendations that have been made with a view to implementation.

The mayor

Statement from Mayor Robertson on the Independent Review of the June 15 Riot

I want to start by thanking Mr Furlong and Mr Keefe for what is a detailed and comprehensive report on the June 15th riot.

They put an enormous amount of work into it, and I want to thank the two of them, their research teams and expert advisers, all of the participants and members of the public who contributed to make this report possible.

What happened that night had a terrible impact on all of us, and particularly our downtown businesses and the employees who were in those businesses when the riot took place.

I went to see the destruction first-hand that night and was appalled. In the ensuing weeks I spoke with businesses and people impacted and it was heartbreaking to hear their stories.

As well, I’ve met many of the heroes who helped protect people and property that night, and came downtown to clean and reclaim our streets in the days that followed, and they have only strengthened my faith and pride in Vancouver.

I want to thank the men and women of the VPD, our fire department, paramedics, and hospital workers, whose hard work and dedication prevented things from being much worse.

No one wants to see a scene like that again, and that’s why it’s so critical that we move quickly to accept and implement this report. This report provides a positive, solutions-oriented way forward.

It also acknowledges and builds on the tremendous outpouring of positive support from the public. This report captures the spirit of people in Vancouver who want to celebrate safely and responsibly and have great pride in our City.

That is why there will be a special open meeting of council next Tuesday, September 6th, where we will go through this report to discuss its findings and conclusions. During this meeting we will also give clear direction to staff to use Mr Furlong and Mr Keefe’s report to guide our planning for the Grey Cup and other major events in the future.

The recommendations from Mr Furlong and Mr Keefe are tangible, we can move quickly on them, and I am committed as Mayor to seeing all the recommendations they made for the City put into action.

It is an exhaustive report, and it will take us all some time to digest it in its entirety. However, it is one that provides a pragmatic, thoughtful framework for the city and region to hold major public gatherings safely and effectively.

Once again I want to thank Mr Furlong and Mr Keefe for their time and energy in making this report possible, and I look forward to acting on it.

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