“Criminal charges will be pursued,” says Premier Clark

Vancouver riots

An open letter to British Columbians from Premier Clark:

British Columbians are understandably embarrassed and disappointed by Wednesday night’s activities. It should have been a celebration of the tremendous effort by the Canucks in their playoff run. It turned into a shameful display of behaviour by people bent on violence.

The vast majority of citizens gathered and dispersed peacefully, but sadly they also witnessed the mayhem. There were also good Samaritans there: people who had the guts to stand up for what is right and citizens who showed up the morning after to help with the clean-up.

These people deserve our thanks. They are the ones who will define our city and our province.

The police and fire fighters had a very difficult job and their hard work is appreciated. The clean-up crews and the businesses have all worked hard to restore the downtown core. I’d also like to thank the first responders who tended to those who were injured as a result of these foolish actions.

There were a lot of preparations. Based on the Olympics, Vancouverites hoped and expected we were past the type of destruction we saw in 1994. It’s very disappointing. We will work with the City of Vancouver to review what we can learn from this. When this happened in ‘94, new approaches were incorporated. We have more to do.

I want to be very clear: this is not who we are. We will not let this band of criminals define us.

None of us want to live in the kind of society we saw last night. We are going to send a strong message of deterrence: if you played a part in this, we have a mountain of evidence and that evidence will be used by authorities to support criminal charges.

Members of the public can help the police and crown prosecutors by submitting any photos, videos or other evidence they may have.

Vancouver police are asking people to email their photos and videos to robbery@vpd.ca, or post information through Twitter at #VPD.

Citizens have also come together to create their own social media sites to share information about events and images of troublemakers captured on mobile phones. The police will monitor these sites closely as part of their efforts to gather evidence.

We will push for full justice. Collectively, we will do our best to bring those responsible to account. Criminal charges will be pursued wherever possible and appropriate.

If you are responsible, we will hold you responsible. Your family, friends and employers will know. We will ensure we have the resources to do this. You will not be able to hide behind your hoodie or your bandana.

No one wants this to happen again. We will not let the behaviour of a few disgrace the City of Vancouver or British Columbia as a whole.

This is not who we are.

On Thursday morning I met with Mayor Robertson and Charles Gauthier of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association to survey the damage. We met dozens of citizens who had gathered downtown, saddened by what happened last night but determined to clean up.

Among them was a student from David Livingston Elementary School, broom in hand, doing her part to sweep away the stain left on her city last night. In these people I saw the spirit, grace and responsibility that make Vancouver and British Columbia the kind of place we all want to live.

Christy Clark

Premier of British Columbia