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Reading the riot

The long-awaited report on the June 15 hockey riot provides many details on what went wrong that night, but far fewer answers as to what to do about it.

The long-awaited report on the June 15 hockey riot provides many details on what went wrong that night, but far fewer answers as to what to do about it.

Not surprisingly, the report ascribes the debacle to drunken troublemakers who quickly stirred up mayhem among the 155,000 people packed into downtown.

The authors conclude that no amount of policing could have stopped the riot once it got underway.

But it also pointed out that one of the main problems was a lack of planning. Despite early rumblings that drunk young men from the suburbs rather than happy families dominated the crowds at the later Stanley Cup games, no one apparently clued into the fact that that might go wrong. Hoping against hope that it wouldn't happen, organizers took an ostrich approach to the gathering storm. As Vancouver waited for the final game, the revelers beat the police to the party.

A transit system that was delivering hundreds of people downtown - many of them drinking en route - every two minutes just added fuel to the fire.

Recommendations that much more planning is needed for events this large is simply common sense. Others - like the need to educate young people about the dangers of binge drinking or the idea of deploying Olympic-style volunteers on to the street - seem more touchyfeely than real.

The big questions remain unanswered: Do we even want events and crowds of this size to gather downtown when the potential for trouble is that clear? If we don't, how do we stop it? That remains the elephant in the room.

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