Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fans gone wild in Montreal
Police cars torched after win

I'm hearing reports coming out of Montreal of violence on the streets after the Canadiens' 5-0 win over the Bruins. The Globe and Mail has a few reporters there on the scene.

If anyone has heard anything, pass it along.

UPDATE Here's Tim Wharnsby's initial report:
An initially jubilant celebration – which closed four major downtown intersections near the Bell Centre – turned ugly after revellers clashed with approximately 100 police in riot gear. A mob of fans smashed one unoccupied police cruiser with cinder blocks on Crescent Street before being chased away by officers. Soon after, two fans returned and lit the cruiser on fire. A second police car was lit on fire on nearby Bishop Street. Both fires were quickly put out. No officers were hurt in either incident.
Still waiting on photos.

UPDATE There are some photos coming out via Flickr and elsewhere late tonight. I imagine video will soon be available, too.

UPDATE LCN is providing footage via a helicopter of some of the mayhem. It's incredible how a few loose cannons can turn something ugly this fast.

First fans beaten up in Boston, now this.

YouTube has more video available.

UPDATE Some good photos of the aftermath are available here.

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At 1:04 a.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Man, better get Kovalev on the airwaves to say he'll serve the suspensi... oh wait, we won. Wait a sec... we didn't win the Cup yet. What the hell?

At 1:07 a.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Matt said...

It's absolutely insane. At least 2 cop cars on fire so far (I've heard friends mention as many as 5 may have been set aflame), many more damaged. It all started after the game when people poured out of bars and the Bell Centre and onto St. Catherine's street. Thousands (no exaggeration) of people just congregated in the middle of intersections and completely shut down traffic on St. Catherine's (from Peel to Bishop) and Crescent Street. They were mostly jumping around, singing, chanting, but there was some petty vandalism.

Then the riot cops showed up, and things got ugly. They formed a line starting around Peel St. and just started to march down St. Catherine's forcing people backwards. Cops were hitting people with nightsticks, and people were throwing bottles at cops. A couple storefronts were broken (Footlocker was one that people smashed and looted) and then people started jumping on parked cop cars, smashing their windows and kicking off their lights. I personally saw 2 cop cars get set on fire (one actually exploded), and then the police started using tear gas to attempt to clear the crowds. Insane.

Things like this escalate quickly in Montreal, partly because of the booze, but also because there is a festering hatred of the Police force here. Montreal police are notorious for human rights abuses, especially at protests, and when that mixes with the language tension, hockey and alcohol things get explosive. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy though—Montreal police are reputed to be overly-violent, so there is backlash against them, and to quell that backlash they have to use violence.

I'm sorry this is rambling, it's late and I'm kind of rattled. I'll try and post something that makes more sense tomorrow. Things are now eerily quiet.

At 1:16 a.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The darkest side of sports mania: if they lose you have to expect violence and destruction; if they win you have to expect violence and destruction.


At 2:03 a.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger agb said...

You'd think after winning a total of 24 cups, a first round series win wouldn't warrant riot mode. I guess the fans were just trying the clear the streets for the cup parade....

At 2:20 a.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn. I thought that stuff only happened here in the States. I hope things aren't too bad up there.

At 2:40 a.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger J.R. said...

Je-sus! It's the first *bleeping* round!

Even if I had a dozen beers at the game, I would not be celebrating a victory by lighting police cars on fire. It's insane and makes sports fans in general look bad.

Hopefully this will act as a wakeup call for later rounds, if the Canadiens advance further.

At 3:10 a.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous J Mac said...

I'll second Matt's statements about Montreal's police. I covered the street situation after an Alouettes Grey Cup win as a reporter a few years ago, and a rowdy-but-benign party at a downtown intersection turned into a stampede when riot cops rushed the crowd, batons flying.

From my point of view, their response was utterly over the top. I interviewed various people scraped and bleeding after being trampled by passers-by; one guy had a gash on the back of his head from a police baton -- he had been at a bank machine when they came through, and when he tried to wait for his card, they clubbed him.

That said, there is, equally, a small contingent of people in Montreal who love to stir things up, and who will use any kind of protest as a chance to agitate against the cops.

My conclusion: I'd hardly blame Montreal fans for any of the ugliness. More like "fans" who saw a good opportunity. And, secondly, there's gotta be a better way to break up a crowd, most of whom are just having a good time, than to rush at them with shields and clubs.

At 5:15 a.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous jm said...

Did Montreal have a designated section of St-Catherine shut down, like so many other Canadian cities have done with their major streets during the past few playoff runs? If not...maybe they should have. Might have been a better call than sending in riot police.

At 5:25 a.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing they didn't expect enough trouble to close down streets because it's just the first round.

If it had been the Cup finals, I'm sure they would have been more prepared.

Nothing like unexpected violence to bring out the worst in surprisd police - and so-called "fans."

At 7:38 a.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger Matthew Macaskill said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7:40 a.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger Matthew Macaskill said...

Wow, must say I'm anxious to see the area downtown on my way to work today. Pretty crazy that this happens after just one series win though. Looks like everyone took up where they left off after we won in '93.

At 9:26 a.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger McLea said...

Reminds of the Red Mile in 2004, except without the violence and burning police cars.

At 10:01 a.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger citynoise.org said...

more photos here of last night's riot...

At 10:52 a.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Keith said...

"Reminds of the Red Mile in 2004, except without the violence and burning police cars.

Topless women > torching police cars

At 12:03 p.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous vadim sharifijanov said...

slightly off topic, but re: hockey fan violence in boston, did anyone see this bill simmons story from yesterday?

as for the topic at hand, i'm pretty sure this has more to do with montrealers' gripes with the PD than anything to do with hockey.

At 12:44 p.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger heed said...

every town has issues with their police force. it still doesn't mean you should burn cop cars and steal nike's. my girlfriend and i almost got stuck in the canada day riot in edmonton a few years back (didn't know it because i was blinded drunk at the time)and it was also a case where the police response was a little over the top. we just kept walking until the whole thing was behind us.

At 1:56 p.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Marc-Andre Fontaine said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:01 p.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger McLea said...

Ah, so it was okay for the Canadians fans to light police cruisers on fire because:

a) They hate the police.
b) They were drunk.

Thanks for clarifying that for us Marc.

At 2:09 p.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Marc-Andre Fontaine said...

never said its ok, i said that the riot police started the riot. People and chanting in the streets at first then the riot police tryed to push them back and scare them away or something. Then the riot started. And as i said alcohol mixed with the emotion of the serie PLUS the montreal police force over reaction to the situation created the problem

Why may i ask why my post was removed...

At 3:07 p.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a surprise - a riot over hockey in Montreal.

In any other Canadian city, a playoff run is cause for car pennants and topless women. But in Montreal, exploding cars, vandalism, putting hockey on the front pages of US papers for the wrong reasons.

Clearly, oppressed French-Canadian people are righteously venting their rage over being a second-class people in Canada, impoverished, under the heel of the dictatorial Catholic church, whose very language is threatened in the heartland of their -

Wait a second, that was 60 years ago. Why would Montrealers be upset now?

At 3:32 p.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger heed said...

excuses are for losers. the alcohol excuse is for big losers. the police incited me to be a moron excuse is for the biggest losers of all.

At 3:54 p.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's rather comical to see a few people leaving comments blame the police. What are they supposed to do when there's a riot? Should they all just stand down, take the insults and objects thrown at them and allow the city streets and civilians they are charged with protecting go up in flames?

And 'cali tejano,' when is the last time you've read any international news concerning riots? By your comment, I doubt you ever have. There are riots in similar fashion following many soccer games. France has at least one bigger riot per year (employment or the alleged racial divide). Even in nations where protests are not allowed (i.e. Syria, Iran and Pakistan), there are massive riots when the clerical elite decided someone or something has offended them. When was the last riot in the U.S.?

At 4:06 p.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how the US gets mentioned in terms of riots, talk about ignorant stereotypes. The only thing they do in New York when they win is throw a ticker tape parade, which is far from throwing molotovs.

At 4:27 p.m., April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fact, when the Rangers won the Cup in '94, no riot.
But Vancouver, they tore up the place.

At 9:32 p.m., April 22, 2008, Blogger K said...

I remember one of the big stories on tv around the national news and locally in Edmonton in June 2006 was the shortage of beer along Whyte Ave!!!

Ahh, those were some good times. Many a bartender giving us some crazy story of where they had to import their beer from.


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