|Police descend on angry, rampaging fans at GM Place after rock band cancels
Friday, November 08, 2002
VANCOUVER (CP) -- Police will review videotape from GM Place and use search warrants if necessary to secure footage from media outlets to nab people who rioted after a Guns N' Roses concert was cancelled.
Thousands of fans, using metal barriers to smash widows, rioted for about an hour outside GM Place in downtown Vancouver on Thursday night after lead singer Axl Rose failed to appear for a concert.
The concert would have been the band's first show on the North American leg of its Chinese Democracy World Tour.
A band spokesman said poor weather conditions at Los Angeles airport made it impossible for Rose's plane to fly.
Deputy police Chief Gary Greer said Friday police would be trying to make more arrests in addition to the 12 made at the scene of the riot.
"We will be taking all the videotape that we can possibly acquire and we will be doing a thorough investigation to identify those people who were involved in the destruction of GM Place and we will seek to lay all the possible charges that we can."
Greer said police will try to get the videotape wherever they can.
"We're pretty sure we're going to seek search warrants for media outlets" as well as videotape from GM Place.
No police officers were injured "beyond a few scrapes and bruises" and he said he didn't know whether any concert-goers were taken to hospital.
Of the 12 arrested, one was charged with mischief and unlawful assembly and another with break and enter and unlawful assembly. Ten others were charged with breach of the peace.
A police inspector will be appointed to review the incident, police planning and response and make recommendations, said Greer.
People at the scene who felt they were unfairly targeted by police should report it, he said.
"We will be reviewing the use of force by our members," Greer told reporters at a crowded news conference at the police station. "This is not to say that people who think too much force was used on them should not report to the police department or the police complaints commissioner their concerns."
He defended the use of force by police including segments captured on video and shown on TV in which some concert-goers appeared to be doing nothing unlawful when they were struck and kicked by police.
"One of the problems you have with these large kinds of incidents is you have a minority who are very active and violent and everybody else who stands around watching, thinking that this is street theatre and it's not."
He said people complain about police actions, arguing they were simply standing there.
"The reality is once you have an unlawful assembly, once we have this kind of violence, just your presence of standing there becomes problematic."
Some police were concerned for their safety, said Greer, who held up a large chunk of aggregate concrete that had been used by some of the rioters.
Rioters broke the chunks off ashtrays and plant stands outside the building and threw them at police, said Greer.
"Some were dropped from the second level down to our members and I can tell you that had this struck one of our members on the head, they'd be dead."
He said police were facing "lethal force" and had to respond.
Calls to Orca Bay, which operates GM Place -- home of the Vancouver Canucks -- were directed to concert promoter Clear Channel Entertainment in Boston. A spokesman there was not immediately available to comment.
Eight officers were at the arena initially but the number was increased to about 20 when it became clear to police the concert was likely to be cancelled.
Patrol cars were then called to the scene, increasing the number of officers to more than 100.
The patrol cars were replaced by units from West Vancouver city police and Burnaby RCMP, said Greer.