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Premier Christy Clark signs a message of support on a board used to cover up a broken widow in Vancouver June 16, 2011. (JOHN LEHMANN/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
Premier Christy Clark signs a message of support on a board used to cover up a broken widow in Vancouver June 16, 2011. (JOHN LEHMANN/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

B.C. Premier promises to expose rioters to public gaze Add to ...

At St. Paul’s Hospital, more than 100 people were treated, most for tear gas exposure, while a steady stream of ambulances poured into the hospital’s emergency bay.

Spokesman Justin Karasick said the hospital had tended to four stabbings, eight head wounds, and four or five lacerations by late evening.

As well, another 30 to 40 people were treated at Vancouver General Hospital. Three were admitted and one is in critical condition, spokeswoman Alyssa Polinsky said Thursday.

City officials reported that 29 businesses in the downtown area had windows smashed. By 7:30 a.m., the windows had been boarded up and secured. By mid-morning, Vancouver city crews had clear away an estimated 90 per cent of the trash, litter and broken glass, says a city bulletin released to the media.

Burnt vehicles, overturned porta-potties and the blanket of trash had been mostly cleared away.

The clean-up was helped by scores of volunteers who came downtown with garbage bags. A Facebook group called "Post Riot Clean-up - Let's help Vancouver" had more than 12,000 members Thursday morning. “Those efforts are truly inspiring and appreciated,” the city bulletin stated. “The city is certainly returning to normal very quickly.”

Solicitor-General Shirley Bond said the city’s ability to hold public celebrations in the future is now in doubt.

“In terms of the future of events like this, I think all of us hope we can live in a city and province where we can celebrate responsibly and respectfully. There is no doubt there will be questions asked about whether that is possible now because of last night,” she told reporters.

While the province did shut down liquor stores early in the downtown core, Ms. Bond said alcohol was a factor and although she watched police checking backpacks and confiscating alcohol on the Canada Line, she suggested access will be in the spotlight.

“Alcohol certainly played a role in this and the demographic - it was a very different circumstance that we had during the Olympics. We had a different crowd downtown last night. . . A very young, predominantly male crowd,” she said.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city was caught by surprise. “The trouble last night was caused by a smaller group of people who were here to commit crimes and wreak havoc,” he said. “These people were here to make trouble and they succeeded in doing that. And we have to make sure we know how to deal with that situation specifically in the future.”

Mr. Robertson said the crowd at the fan zone after the hockey game was different than the crowds at the 2010 Olympics. “They had adapted their techniques and managed to wreak a lot more havoc than we ever would have expected,” he said.

The riot was an outbreak few expected. Police had emphasized repeatedly in the days leading up to Wednesday night’s hockey showdown that they had learned from 1994 and knew how to contain crowds.

But it was close to midnight before Vancouver riot police appeared to bring the rampaging chaos in the streets under some form of control, helped by reinforcements rushed in from suburban police forces.

They used horses, dogs, riot shields, batons and pepper spray to slowly disperse the crowds and move them away from riot hotspots.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who had earlier hailed the city’s Stanley Cup crowd experience as unprecedented in North America, said he had "never been as disappointed and outraged."

"From what we saw tonight, it is clear there was a group of people intent on instigating violence and breaking the law. As the night progressed, we saw other people either encouraging them or joining in – a sight that I know disgusted myself and millions of people across our country," he said.

In some locations, people appalled by the violence tried to talk sense to the rioters, with only marginal success.

Police and bystanders were pelted with bottles, stones, projectiles and firecrackers at times.

Firefighters were loathe to respond to the numerous calls of fires, out of concern for their own safety, with police busy trying to quell crowds elsewhere. Cars were left to burn on their own.

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