Vancouver Riot: The Other Side of The Ugliness

For anyone feeling post-riot despair over what British Columbians are capable of, I have an antidote.

His name is Bert Easterbrook. He was beaten bloody for his bravery.

The 32-year-old photographer and care worker for severely disabled people had been watching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Cannabis Culture Vapour Lounge near Gastown, close to the city’s harbour. When he went outside for fresh air, he saw smoke rising from the city core.

“I sent my girl to go hide out in the truck and keep her safe and ran out to get some pictures,” he says. “That’s when I saw a bunch of people being stupid.”

The grandson of a Vancouver policeman, Easterbrook waded into the crowd on Georgia Street near the main post office to help police hold their line. A nearby car was being doused with accelerant, and rioters were rocking a green pickup truck to roll it over.

“Me and a couple other guys said, ‘This is not cool,’ and decided to step in,” he says.

Video taken at the scene shows Easterbrook and at least three other men holding the hooligans — one of whom was bashing the truck’s hood with a hammer — at bay as smoke begins to cloud the vehicle interior from a wad of burning paper thrown inside.

“I just grabbed (the paper) and threw it out,” says Easterbrook, a 6-foot-2, 255-pound karate expert who also works as a security guard for pro-marijuana rallies in Vancouver.

All around, people began chanting, “Burn the truck! Burn the truck!”

When a rioter shoved him and tossed the flaming paper back into the vehicle, Easterbrook smashed him with a forearm. “It’s too bad I ended up having to level somebody,” he says. “I don’t like to have to do that. I had to put him down fast.”

The blow focused the mob’s fury on Easterbrook. “They’re all screaming, ‘He’s an effin’ cop, get him!’ I just protected the camera and grabbed the closest body and went down with him.”

Other footage shows a sea of rioters converging over Easterbrook, battering him with kicks and punches. “I went down face-first. They were all dog-piled on my back,” he says. Hundreds of onlookers cheered the attackers, while police pushed into the mob. Officers began pulling the assailants away, and Easterbrook was able to stand, blood running down his bald head.

Easterbrook, of New Westminster, B.C., saw the 1994 Cup riot, and came away from this one impressed with the police. “In ’94, the cops started it. This year it was the fans. The cops did an amazing job. I kept thanking officers on the way to go find my girlfriend.”

A burned hand kept him off his care-worker job for two days, and he has cuts, bruises and contusions all over.

Easterbrook’s longtime friend, Cannabis Culture magazine editor Jodie Emery, says the hulking photographer displayed the qualities that make him ideal as a security guard during marijuana rallies. “He’s really tough, but he’s really, really gentle,” Emery says. “He’s a super soft-spoken sweetheart. He can’t stand disrespect, and violence is not his thing.”

Acts of heroism occurred throughout the mayhem. One of the men with Easterbrook at the truck later confronted rioters smashing two police cars a couple blocks eastward, until he was forced to run headlong from a bloodthirsty pack of pursuing goons: man in the green shirt and surf trunks, your courage was truly amazing. High praise, too, to John Marchenko, who stood off crazed idiots bashing an overturned car with everything from skateboards to a crowbar; to the men in front of The Bay, including Robert MacKay, who were attacked while trying to prevent looting; to the dozen men and women who linked arms into a protective chain around a man beaten to the ground on Georgia Street, and to all those whose bravery went unnoticed and unrecorded.

You are the other side of the riot coin, the side that shines, and reminds us that in our anger and disappointment, we need not despair. Inside the riot, the morons were many and the heroes were comparatively few. But those who support what the idiots did are but a thin, rotten slice of our society.

We who applaud the heroes are legion.

– Article from The Province.

Comments

16 Comments

  1. Jayaterma on

    there is not such thing as an enlightened police officer

  2. Jayaterma on

    WRONG! Easterbrook protected the LAW with the applied use of fore to defend an undue violation of the LAW. No scared little boys dressed up in costumes or fake money necessary. Clearly, you are coward.

  3. Anonymous on

    WRONG! Easterbrook protected the LAW with the applied use of fore to defend an undue violation of the LAW. No scared little boys dressed up in costumes or fake money necessary. Clearly, you are coward.

  4. bert easterbrook on

    i agree that we did not deserve to win the cup. boston totally earned it!

    as for your misplaced bigoted comments about police and their role in our community, you need to realize that things are changing at a very quick pace and BOTH SIDES are coming together. SO STOP THE HATE, otherwise drug peace will never happen.

    as for your statement of this being an act of ego, dead wrong.

    i watched what happened to my city in 94 and i saw how it blossomed. when i saw the same things starting to happen and i had a chance to help, i did.

    i took part in trying to maintain the police perimiter but people pushed through once the first car fire was out and started to damage the property of a hard working citizen that helps him make a living (ironicly its for fire prevention so go ahead and hate on that if you can). so i stepped in along with others to wave people off who were acting like scared little pigeons who were all trying to get a bite of a piece of ham sandwich ( in the words of andrew perry, the fellow in the green shirt who stood up for the truck too) only to have some little punk throw a burning newspaper back into the truck after i already burned my hands pulling out. thats when i felt the shove. attacking an inanimate object is one thing in front of a bunch of drunken fools, but getting physical with people wont be tolerated and i STOPPED IT! i will never be intimidated into submission like that and i will do everything in my power to defend myself.

    lets just say that with my training and strength, he is lucky i only barely tagged him. he can consider himself lucky that i only stopped him instead of severely damaging him. if it was ego based i would have thrown him around like a rag doll and thrown him face first into his own fire. but instead it was quick and efficient.

    i have the proper training to handle this situation and i ask for no sympathy for my injuries due to my own choices. i chose to leave cowardice with the boys and try to protect my city from being burned to the ground.

    ego that and stick it in the dirt to grow!

  5. Bert Easterbrook on

    well, all i can say is that i have no problems taking a beating for standing up for what i believe in.

    i wouldn’t think twice to do it again even if the beating was double the damage that it was. that is what a good citizen will do to protect the city or country that they love and i thoroughly stand behind the quote of ” those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither” and with that there is a duty to selflessness to protect the wellbeing of others if you are able to do so.

    i was able to, and did it without thinking or flinching.

    try putting some balls in that bag of yours buddy.

  6. Anonymous on

    Glad that this dude helps protect Jodie and marijuana rallies, but as the previous commenter said, defending a pollution machine from a mob is not a heroic act, it’s just an ego act. If the mob had been attacking helpless folks, sure, go ahead, use your martial arts skills and make yourself look great, but wading into this riot and trying to help the police (police are no friends of the cannabis community), that’s bizarre. The Canucks played like schoolboys and the Bruins stomped them well. The rioters were on booze, not pot. All in all, this kind of article has nothing to do with cannabis or why we come to this website.

  7. Anonymous on

    That guy could easily have been killed but the important thing is that he protected a truck that was parked in the dumbest place in Vancouver that night for a few minutes. Oh sure, you can stand up to a rioting crowd. You know the deadly art of Karate. Look how well that worked out. The lesson here is don’t try to be a hero to save someone else’s vehicle that they parked in a riot zone, unless you really enjoy getting beat up. The cops are paid handsomely to protect the city from rioters, you’re not. Of course, if you are tired of living then by all means play the goody two shoes role at the riot. Two rules to live by; don’t try to break up a fight between people you don’t even know and don’t try to stop a riot unless you are armed and in riot gear. I shouldn’t actually have to tell you that but apparently I do. Now if it is YOUR vehicle then sure, get in it and drive through some rioters. If it isn’t even your vehicle and you are risking your life to protect its owner from an insurance claim then you, my friend, are an idiot.

  8. Paul Pot on

    I in no way endorse violent behaviour but I understand whats going on and I blame prohibition entirely for the state of modern society.

    These guys come from that part of society that is most commonly stopped and searched by the police, working class, unemployed. The police conduct regular home invasions and street searches on them and behave very badly when they do so.

    All our lives we have had to put up with this state sanctioned abuse. Most people like myself end up suffering depression over it but of course others are going to respond violently. It’s not a rational response but prohibition is not rational to begin with so you have to expect problems. Basically prohibition causes psychotic behaviour.

    Prohibition has fostered a criminal culture and set it against the establishment. Prohibition does not make sense, it puts an enormous burden on society and something has to break and of course it’s people.

    Prohibition has existed all our lives, it has been brutal and has trained people from the beginning to be ruthless and self interested. If the politicians wish to continue to direct the police to inflict this violent law on the people and train them to live in a violent world, then we have to expect people to be violent.

    We are seriously over-policed and that breeds mistrust and anger for the authorities. It is time to start making laws that fit society rather than force society to fit the law.

    So if you want to penalize the hooligans, caught on camera, brawling and rioting in the streets, just remember the police are being equally violent, every night, out of sight, visiting people one by one and turning their homes and their lives upside down and then walking away and laughing about it.

  9. anonymous on

    Hi. Bert is awesome. I am so curious who took that photograph. Do you know? It’s really great!

  10. Anonymous on

    I don’t understand what gets into people that makes them want to riot over a freaking sporting event. Your team lost: deal with it like a human and not like some kind of crazed beast. I normally abhor violence, but I think that the police should have starting shooting the rioters. There was absolutely no excuse for what they did. What good does destroying their own city do? These idiots are a disgrace to their country and their species. Anyone who tries to defend the actions of the mob is an idiot and most likely a communist as only people wanting to overthrow their government would applaud such actions. I hope that at the very least the police review these video clips and bring charges against anyone that they can identify. I hope these fools are happy with themselves because they played right into the hands of the Canadian politicians who are trying to get tougher on crime. And you know what? If this is the way the people act, I can’t blame the politicians. I completely support the movement to legalize cannabis and all drugs as prohibition on them causes more harm than the drugs themselves, but I’m starting to think that maybe sports need to be banned. This may seem like a radical position from the point of view of any sports fans, but if losing a game brings out such behavior in people then something has to be done. If nothing else, I support the police shooting all rioters and looters on sight if that’s what’s necessary.

  11. Glenn on

    I don’t understand what gets into people that makes them want to riot over a freaking sporting event. Your team lost: deal with it like a human and not like some kind of crazed beast. I normally abhor violence, but I think that the police should have starting shooting the rioters. There was absolutely no excuse for what they did. What good does destroying their own city do? These idiots are a disgrace to their country and their species. Anyone who tries to defend the actions of the mob is an idiot and most likely a communist as only people wanting to overthrow their government would applaud such actions. I hope that at the very least the police review these video clips and bring charges against anyone that they can identify. I hope these fools are happy with themselves because they played right into the hands of the Canadian politicians who are trying to get tougher on crime. And you know what? If this is the way the people act, I can’t blame the politicians. I completely support the movement to legalize cannabis and all drugs as prohibition on them causes more harm than the drugs themselves, but I’m starting to think that maybe sports need to be banned. This may seem like a radical position from the point of view of any sports fans, but if losing a game brings out such behavior in people then something has to be done. If nothing else, I support the police shooting all rioters and looters on sight if that’s what’s necessary.

  12. Anonymous on

    sports is a load of nonsense, end of story… it turns people violent, it turns people tribal, it nurtures group-think, non-rational thinking… athletics is one thing, sports is another

  13. Anonymous on

    Despite the loss of the stanley cup to the boston bruins, the Canucks are my favorite hockey team (and I’m an american from houston texas) Go Canucks!
    I didn’t like what happened after the game.
    (I applaud the efforts of those who tried to stop the chaos)
    Does this mean I won’t be buying a Canucks hockey jersey? Hell no!
    Just remember Canucks fans, theres always next time!
    Glad to hear that they cleaned up all the shops that had fire damage ad broken windows

  14. Miz D on

    Just wanted to give kudos to Mr. Eastebrook and all the others who took action against the fools hell bent on causing trouble and destroying our beautiful city. You are all heros in my book and my heart is bursting with pride for your admirable behaviour.

  15. Anonymous on

    These are were not under the influence of cannabis but drunken fools the police need to go after these criminal and the ones that stood up against them should be rewarded

  16. Bob M on

    Right on, this makes me proud to part of the Cannabis Culture and Living in BC. It’s crazy to think that people who love there city could destroy it. Good job to every one who did there part to stop the all the bull shit.