While looking through some old digital photo archives I stumbled upon some shots I took 5 years ago during Vancouver’s famous and arguably notorious Stanley Cup riot. I am old enough to remember the riot in 1994 so I was prepared with a digital camera, water and a first aid kit.

As the game ended it became clear to me that something was about to kick off. One of the main things that help a photographer in general is a sense that something is about to go down.  As a keen people watcher I noticed a small band of young thugs pushing their way through the crowd toward the central hub of activity in front of the big screen where we all watched in horror as the final seconds of the game ticked off.   What followed happened so quickly and spiralled as the hive mind took over.   Some how the crowd got into a manic frenzy of destruction and I managed to get off a few shots.

This shot taken early after the first group of young thugs went to work shows that to have a riot you first need a large central fire to build unity of the collective mind. We all stood yelling and getting worked up.  Suddenly “normal” people went crazy.

Staying calm and shoving my arms up for this blind auto focus shot paid off.

As things progressed I moved between the combined roll of photographer to crowd director to help the police get out as they were trapped in the middle without any riot gear.  They returned shortly and launched tear gas into the crowds.  The crowd fired back with water bottles and anything they could throw. It was chaos.

Many people got hurt by the canisters hitting them in the head or face.

All tooled up the police engaged in a stand off with a crowd that refused to give any ground.

I got down on my knees in front of the line to get this shot. pretty scary stuff.

Debris was everywhere people were now looting other parts of the city away from the main crowd

While the main crowd held the square small bands were engaged in car tipping.

These shots tell the story far better than words.  Sometimes in photography we tell an unpleasant story but the Photographer tries to stay true to the art and simply tell the story through photos while trying to remain neutral and apart from the scene.

Lesson learned  always have your camera and be ready to record life’s less than proud moments. 😉