- BC Games
Vancouver riot captured by photographer
Seung-Chul Baik left his downtown Vancouver apartment Wednesday night with a minute left in the hockey game.
He stepped onto the pavement at Cambie and Robson streets to see about five police officers running toward a crowd. Baik, a 24-year-old intern photographer with The Richmond Review, followed.
Then he saw a car on fire.
The streets had begun to descend into chaos. Outside the Canada Post building at Georgia and Hamilton streets, a pickup truck and car were both overturned and set on fire by rioters as a crowd of onlookers cheered.
"Police couldn't control them," said Baik. "There was a lot of people, and police, there were just a few of them."
Police stood watch as rioters set fires and smashed cars, windows and street furniture. Onlookers posed for photos in the midst of the chaos.
The crowd was chanting "F--- Boston," and "F--- the police."
"It started to get more violent, some were saying something like let's start a riot."
The police gained some control once the riot police moved in, but couldn't quell the riot until late into the evening.
Violence began with a crowd watching the Vancouver Canucks lose to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on a big screen set up on a downtown street. Bottles and cans were hurled at the screen.
Around the city, reports suggested at least a dozen vehicles were set on fire or badly damaged, including two police cars.
Baik was documenting the violence with his camera, briefly leaving the scene to process photos in his apartment before returning and staying on the streets until midnight, when rioters could no longer be seen.
Instead of people in the crowds running away from his camera lens, Baik found bold fans and rioters posing for him.
But Baik didn't finish the evening unscathed. He was hit in the head with a bottle, a flash bang popped right next to him and he was enveloped by a cloud of tear gas.
Baik wondered if the police were prepared for the game's aftermath, considering similar riots broke out after the Canucks lost in the final round in 1994.
"I don't know if they were prepared or not, but police came late," he said. "If they had prepared and had cops on the scene at first, it might not have gotten that big."
Baik, a native of Korea, has seen plenty of demonstrations and protests in his country—especially during the 2002 World Cup of soccer—but nothing like this. He said Korean police respond to protests with thousands of officers and riot police—boosted by the ranks of the military.
Collin Neal, a sales representative at The Review, attended the game at Rogers Arena.
"Right when we left the building and crossed Georgia, we looked past the CBC building and saw smoke," he said. "It was a little chaotic."
Neal left downtown via a water taxi to Granville Island, and said acrid smoke still filled the air late into the evening.