Guns And Roses Fans Riot in Vancouver, Canada
Thousands of Guns And Roses fans rioted Thursday night, November 7, 2002, after an announcement outside GM Place in Vancouver that the show had been canceled.
Angry fans, some having traveled from as far away as Winnipeg to see the band's first show in more than 10 years, grabbed large metal barricades and smashed them through the reinforced windows of the stadium. The crowd cheered as rioters smashed the windows, and began to shoot fireworks into the building. Others from the crowd kicked in ticket-booth windows.
All 120 Vancouver police on duty that night were sent to the area and once they arrived immediately began pepper-spraying and clubbing people. Police from North Vancouver and Burnaby had to be sent over to Vancouver to take over regular duties. The crowd began to run away and police chased them, hitting some people on the back of their heads, and wrestling some to the ground and then beating them repeatedly.
Fans then retaliated by shooting fireworks at police and then throwing rocks. Police reported that some people broke apart chunks of concrete and threw them down on police from the overhead Georgia Street viaduct.
Several police officers were bruised and injured, and 12 members of the crowd were arrested, most charged with breach of peace, one with mischief, and one with break and enter. Police cleared the area, sicking police dogs on people as they tried to escape. Skytrain officials shut down the system temporarily. Police reported that they were afraid that rioters would head down Robson Street. More than 0,000 dollars damage was done to GM Place.
Police say that they will get warrants to seize media footage to hunt down and prosecute more rioters.
This clash is only the latest in Vancouver's long history of social disturbances. From the city-wide Halloween riots of the 60's, to the 3-day-long English Bay Sea Festival riots of the 70's, to the Grey Cup riots, the Rolling Stones riot (where youth threw molotov firebombs at police cars), and the Stanley Cup riot of 94 (which saw the most extensive looting and street fighting in the city ever!).
As anarchists, we observe these kinds of incidents with interest not because we see them as revolutionary or romantic in any sense, but because we see them for what they are; a rupture in the economy.
It is clear that a large crowd of working class and working poor people have no “moral restraint” when it comes to corporate property or police forces, and that they find strength in their numbers and see themselves as being quite capable of engaging the forces of the State and winning! These events do much to dispel the middle-class and pacifist arguments that militant action “alienates the people”. We argue the opposite - people are already alienated, and this is why they riot!
The need the police have for video footage shows that without it they are incapable of identifying rioters or preventing and punishing their actions. This also demonstrates the utility of face masks.
For anarchists, these events do not present a moral problem, something we must condemn and denounce, but rather the reality of social conditions and the potential for people to break free from the capitalist ideologies of social control and social peace.
Social control plays itself out in the belief that it is impossible to resist, that the police exert total influence over society, and the tendency for citizens to police themselves and their neighbours. Social peace plays out in the the State monopoly on violence and its concealment. Both of these ideologies are incredibly vulnerable to attack. It only takes one spark to start a fire. It only takes one small act of sabotage to set off a riot.
As anarchists, we seek to analyze society for what it is, to take action, and to turn riots into insurrections.
against capital and the state,
Insurrectionary Anarchists of the Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver)