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Reporter Rob Brown comes face-to-face with rioters

A rioter poses next to a burning vehicle in downtown Vancouver. - Seung-Chul Baik photo
A rioter poses next to a burning vehicle in downtown Vancouver.
— image credit: Seung-Chul Baik photo

The morning after rioters threw downtown Vancouver into chaos, Rob Brown saw a glimmer of hope.

The CTV News reporter and Steveston resident was on the ground covering the events of Wednesday night for a live TV audience, witnessing rioters taunting police, looting stores and jumping on burning cars.

Brown said the events that followed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena didn't offer any positives for the city. But on Thursday morning, with plywood covering broken shop windows, Brown saw lines of people armed with felt markers and pens, writing messages about how sorry they are and that what happened isn't what Vancouver is about.

"To see that visual representation of it and people going to those lines in tears—that offers some hope. But it's hard to have any after '94 and it happens again," he said in an interview with The Review.

Once Brown managed to assemble a full crew, he was on air shortly after the riots ensued. During the melee, someone threw an object at Brown, narrowly missing him and breaking his cameraman's nose instead.

"That's scary, but I wasn't truly fearful for my safety. I was really worried about the people we were shooting and the things that were happening to people around us for sure," he said.

Brown said police began making a concerted effort to close in a group of rioters around 10:30 p.m. by immediately taking out and arresting anyone who caused a disturbance. By midnight, the violence had concluded.

What surprised him was the mob mentality that developed among the thousands of people gathered downtown. Some fans were there to simply watch the game, but ended up joining rioters—or were at least entertained by them.

"All of a sudden they're smashing things, all of a sudden they're jumping on a burning car and falling into the flames and thinking it's funny."

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