Rampage Not Linked to M.C. Hammer Concert, Organizers Say
PENTICTON, British Columbia (AP) _ The mayor says a weekend riot by about 2,000 youths was planned in advance by teen-agers from outside the city, but some shop owners say it wouldn’t have happened if rapper M.C. Hammer hadn’t drawn a huge crowd to his concert.
The rioters looted stores, overturned cars, and wrecked tourist attractions and concessions along the beach in this resort town.
At least 50 members of the Royal Canadian Mouted Police in riot gear used tear gas to quell the crowd. More than 70 people were arrested.
About 60 people were treated at Penticton hospital for minor injuries. RCMP Inspector Trevor Thompsett said some officers received minor injuries.
The disturbance Saturday night and early Sunday is believed to have started when about 20 young people began throwing rocks at a RCMP officer directing traffic.
A witness, Lee Edwards of Kelowna, said a youths surrounded a pair of police officers and began kicking and beating them.
The disturbance occurred during and after an outdoor concert by Hammer before more than 9,000 people. A spokesman for Music 91, the government-funded sponsor of the concert, said the concert went off without a hitch.
Hammer delivered a strong message against drugs, alcohol and violence, said Ray McAllister, Music 91′s director of communications.
Mayor Jake Kimberly said police told him Sunday that teen-agers from outside the city who had planned a disturbance in advance. He said he wasn’t prepared to divulge where the youths were from.
But managers of some of the looted stores said the Hammer concert played a significant role in the riot.
″M. C. Hammer brought in 10,000 people. Seven thousand of them were probably from out of town,″ said Sam Drossos, manager of the Three Gables Beer and Wine Store.
″The clubs and bars were full after the concert so these people had no place to go.″