This Week in Celebratory Rioting, Francophone Edition

From the Calgary Herald:

Montreal police Thursday are reviewing their hockey-playoffs strategy, the morning after a crowd of hooligans rioted on Rue Ste. Catherine, breaking store windows and carting away clothing and bottles of alcohol.

More than two police officers and a handful of civilians were slightly injured and one police horse was cut in the melee before the riot squad cleared the street around midnight.

There were 32 arrests, on charges ranging from municipal bylaw infractions to theft and assaulting a police officer.

Montreal police assistant director Sylvain Brouillette congratulated the vast majority of Canadiens fans, estimated at 50,000, who poured downtown last night to watch Game 7 on giant screens at the Bell Centre or in local bars and to celebrate their team’s success.

“We had huge crowds, and the great majority of people co-operated with us,” he said Thursday morning at a news conference outside Foot Locker, one of three vandalized stores near Rue Ste. Catherine.

“It was only about 500 out of 50,000 who took part in criminal acts.”

Brouilette said police were satisfied with the strategy of closing Rue Ste. Catherine to traffic during and after the game, but would look at ways to improve control over hooligans who took advantage of the celebrations to riot.

“We know there will be another playoffs, so we will modify and adjust the strategy,” he said. “We want people to have fun, but not to attack police.”

The initial partying after the Canadiens eliminated the Penguins in Pittsburgh last night went well for about two hours, Brouillette said.

Then a break-away group of about 500 started throwing bottles at police and some smashed windows of three stores on Rue Ste. Catherine.

“The hooligans were not hockey fans,” Brouillette said. “They came here with the intention of breaking things and causing trouble.”

Once the vandalism and smash-and-grabs began, the Montreal police riot squad was called in and the street was cleared within 30 minutes, Brouillette said.

“Now we will look to see what has to be done to improve things next time,” he said. “Each game is a new challenge.”

As they say in Quebec, “Quand nous gagnons, nous nous ameutons. Quand nous perdons, nous nous ameutons.” (Translated: “When we win, we riot. When we lose, we riot.”)

About jamesrussellcraven
Native Philadelphian, longtime sports fan and man about bon vivant.

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