8. A man approaching an officer in a police line and asking permission to go by because he’d lost his wife. He was allowed to pass;
9. An elderly Chinese woman picking vegetables out of the shattered plate glass from her grocery store window;
10. Police horses galloping down sidewalks filled with pedestrians, scattering them in all directions;
11. Rocks, stones and bottled thrown at police by gangs of youths who roamed streets within six block of Maple Street Square;
12. Youths and middle aged men and woman dragged, lifted and thrown into the rear of waiting paddy wagons;
13. No police badges or numbers on officers uniforms;
14. Numerous groups of youths shouting obscenities;
16. Several plate glass window in stores smashed;
17. Pools of blood at several locations throughout the Gastown area;
18. Riot equipped police standing guard outside the public entrance to the police station at 312 Main.
[Source: Vancouver Sun, 9 August 1971.]
Seventy-nine people were arrested and thirty-eight charged with various offences. Immediately, there was a public backlash. The front pages of newspapers were filled with stories of the riot and the aftermath.
The Vancouver Sun called for an inquiry because the “volume of rhetoric and abuse that has been pouring out ever since [the riot] ... has so confused the public that only a detached, impartial and coherent assessment of the whole affair will now suffice to put blame where it belongs.”
Of course, the Georgia Straight blamed the police and pointed out that this riot was evidence of the police hostility to the youth. Mayor Campbell naturally defended the police and claimed that Sommer and Lester of the Georgia Straight were responsible for the violence. However, Campbell also stated his support for an inquiry into alleged police abuse.
The merchants of Gastown, many who were sympathetic to those caught in the riot, arranged a bail-fund and planned a social gathering for protesters and police to ease the tensions in the community.
So was an inquiry held? And if so, what were the results? You will have to wait until Friday for that answer!
Thanks goes to the Canada Human Rights History website for the above information.
I hope you find the beauty around you.