(Vancouver, B. C.) June 15, 2011 - On June 13, 2011 when the 2011 NHL season came down to one game after the Boston Bruins tied the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL Stanley Cup playoff series at three games apiece, the fire was started under the boiling cauldron that would be the Vancouver, B.C. riots that ensued on June 15, 2011 when the Bruins beat the Canucks 4-0 in the deciding Game-7 . Every Pacific Northwest sports photojournalist was enroute to Vancouver on June 14, 2011 to prepare for either the celebration of National pride with the Canucks winning as the first Canadian team to win the Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens or if the Boston Bruins won, the potential for utter chaos. For those of us sports photojournalists that had barely 24 hours to prepare for the history that unfolded, we all bore witness behind our cameras to the chaos that took place in the heart of the beautiful, high tech and progressive Pacific Northwest city of Vancouver.
The iPhone self portrait photo you see above includes my dear colleague Vancouver Province staff photographer Gerry Kahrmann at the front of more than 100,000 Vancouver Canucks fans jam-packed into one street block watching a jumbotron television over our heads at the corner of Hamilton Street and Georgia Street in Vancouver showing live the Bruins delivering a resounding 4-0 defeat to the Canucks only blocks down the street East of our location at Rogers Arena hockey rink. This was the last time that Gerry, my ‘wingman’ for the rioting chaos, and I along with every photojournalist on the street would smile that night.
As the last few minutes of the third period of the game wound down with the Canucks trailing an unsurmountable 4-0 lead by the Bruins, the massive crowd in front of Gerry and I literally exploded at the seams. The cauldron whose fire was ‘lit’ on June 13, 2011 boiled over and went completely out of control at 8:45pm on June 15, 2011.
Despite me being doused with rioters green paint, getting covered in police pepper spray, nearly getting hit in the head by a flying beer bottle and my car almost getting burned in a parking lot nearby the jumbotron, it’s just amazing that both Gerry, myself and most of the pro photojournalists covering the event walked away unscathed. The one reported casualty was Vancouver Sun staff photographer Jason Payne who was mugged at the corner of Howe Street and Robson Street later in the evening when the giant crowd of fans dispersed and the true hoodlums and anarchists continued to roam the streets looting and destroying property. All of Jason’s photo gear was wrecked, but fortunately, he was able to escape with only minor scrapes and a traumatized personal space.
The Canadian cellphone service system was inundated with many of the more than 117,000 hockey fans that were streaming live video, iPhone photos and TEXTS throughout the night in Vancouver which made our job as photojournalists all that more difficult to get our photoreportage out on the wires and to meet deadlines. The cellphone data baud rate was so slow that night (mollases-like 1.5 KB/second!), it took me 1-1/2 hours to transmit my first five photos; it normally takes 10 minutes to do that! For now, I am just grateful to have had a great wingman and friend Gerry Kahrmann to work alongside that evening and to have a shot of whiskey early the next morning before passing out after a long day/night on the streets of Vancouver. Since pictures speak louder than words, I’ll let your mouse do the speaking. Here are some of the newspaper front pages and galleries that prominently displayed my photos from that night’s riots.
The National Post (Canada): http://nationalpostnews.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/nl0617a001x1.jpg
Toronto Star: http://photogallery.thestar.com/1009936
Totally Cool Pix: http://totallycoolpix.com/2011/06/vancouver-canucks-fans-riot/
Yahoo Daily Newsphoto Gallery: http://news.search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A2KJjb2ozzlNDjYAgw7QtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTEwNDZydGJpBHNlYwNpbWFnZQRjb2xvA3NwMgR2dGlkA1VTTkMxNF8x?ei=UTF-8&p=bolante&fr=news-us-ss§ion=photo
Special ‘Hawai’an-style kudos’ to colleague Richard Lam/Getty Images who arguably got THE PHOTO of the night: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Love+among+ruins+Richard+discusses+Vancouver+Riot+Kiss+photo/4959172/story.html
Thanks again to all of you for your calls, TEXTS and Emails of concern for me as we covered the riots. All is good and peaceful back in Seattle. Aloha, Anthony [Follow me on TWITTER: @TheImageArsenal]