British Columbia

Media outlets challenge Vancouver police riot footage order

A lawyer representing six media outlets is in B.C. Supreme Court fighting Vancouver police warrants aimed at collecting video coverage from the Stanley Cup riot earlier this year.

Riot fallout

12 years ago
Duration 2:43
Media outlets including the CBC are challenging a court order to hand over all of their riot footage

A lawyer representing six media outlets is in B.C. Supreme Court fighting Vancouver police warrants aimed at collecting video coverage from the Stanley Cup riot earlier this year.

The warrants — also known as production orders — include the CBC, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, The Globe and Mail, Global TV and CTV.  The Vancouver Police Department is asking for all unreleased images captured between 4 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. the night of the riot.

Dan Burnett, the lawyer representing the media outlets, told Justice David Harris Wednesday morning the police are asking for too much in their demand.

He said police already have everything that was broadcast, but the new demand is too broad and unfocused.

Burnett argued the unreleased material amounts to trade secrets for news organizations and demanding those images amounts to interference.

He also pointed out the VPD had just one officer video taping the riot, and said the production orders amount to the deputization of journalists and camera operators.

The lawyer acting for the City of Vancouver on behalf of the VPD has yet to make their arguments.

'Dangerous concept'

Meanwhile, a Vancouver journalism instructor says the city's major media outlets are right to refuse to hand over the footage.

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Ross Howard, who teaches journalism ethics at Langara College, said the news outlets are right to hold their ground and calls the request alarming.

"It instantly suggests, I think to many people in the public, that anytime you see a photographer or cameraman that whatever they're taking pictures of will become part of the police repertoire for prosecuting," Howard told CBC News.

"And that's a really dangerous concept for the public to begin to believe you don't see any difference between the role of the media and the police."

Howard said the request undermines the role of the media as an independent watchdog of the police, and hopes the media outlets will successfully challenge the request in court.

So far, police have recommended 163 charges against 60 alleged looters and vandals. A total of 118 people have been arrested or turned themselves in.

Police say between 500 and 700 people will likely face charges by the time the investigation is concluded.

The riot broke out after the Vancouver Canucks' Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup final on June 15. Rioters spent hours torching cars, smashing windows and looting stores in the city's downtown core, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.