Mile of angst

RICK BELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 5:00 PM ET

 They're out there. Those who want to turn the Red Mile into the Rude Mile. The boneheads.

 There are not many. Not yet. Maybe a couple hundred, maybe a little less, maybe even more.

  No matter the number, enough idiots to pee on property, scrawl graffiti, break windows, pull off a punchup. Enough to turn the best party into the worst nightmare. Boneheads understand the psyche of the crowd, how to turn the ignition of aggravation.

 And they do it without a glimmer of guilt. They aren't happy unless they destroy everyone else's ha-ha.

 The boneheads aren't around in the beginning of this crusade for the Cup. Boneheads aren't the brainiest bunch.

 In the series with Vancouver and into the games against the Wings, the Red Mile is almost solely the sanctuary of Flames fans, though many are admittedly recent converts to the cause. But, as the playoffs unbelievably progress, hundreds upon hundreds hitch a ride on the bandwagon.

 Including the boneheads, who aren't so stupid they can't figure out the location of the biggest bash in the country.

 It is tough to talk tough about the boneheads. Would sound like raining on a parade of righteous revellers.

 When the G-8 Summit is recently in this city reading the riot act is easy. A couple thousand protesters bring forth proclamations from politicians best filed under the heading Wrath of God.

 We won't allow none of those pinko, anarchist ghouls of Green to mess up our town. We'll be on them like white on rice. Bolt the doors, board up the windows and call for the cavalry. But the authorities can't talk that way about the Red Mile. We're talking about Calgarians, the Flames, the good hockey game, happy people.

 The boneheads are a minority in the mix, wrapped in the flag of the hometown, the bad apple in a barrel of boosters, piranhas in the Sea of Red.

 Yesterday, a spit-and-polish Insp. Dan Jahrig appears for the police. He was on Electric Avenue doing traffic supervision the night of the '89 Cup but has seen nothing like the Red Mile. He accentuates the positive. That's the Calgary Police Service way. In fact, the inspector says the word "positive" so many times, everyone loses count.

 When he isn't saying the word "positive," he says "festive atmosphere." He calls the police philosophy "balanced."

 When speaking of the police chief's now-prophetic decision to plan for a Stanley Cup win six weeks ago, Jahrig says he figured Calgary would go all the way after Vancouver.

 "We have the same dreams," says the poetic police officer.

 Insp. Jahrig does announce 17 arrests Thursday night, but cautions most misconduct on the Mile is drunkenness and a "minor assault" on a police officer.

 He also says the Mounties and the Edmonton cops will help patrol our 'burbs while the local badges will be in and around the Mile, but he won't comment on whether any of the outsiders will draw crowd control duties, though they surely will.

 After all, Edmonton is accustomed to huge hockey crowds and the RCMP are mighty handy with pepper spray.

 It is then, after the dispensing of the niceties, the inspector turns his attention to the boneheads.

 "We are watching what is going on. A number of officers are involved in high ground observations. They're looking for areas of activity, like the start of any fights, where we need to direct officers to issue a warning or take enforcement action," says Insp. Jahrig, who insists claiming fan status will not deliver any immunity from idiocy.

 "We don't want anything that could be a spark for something. Whether it's an anarchist at the G-8 or a Flames fan on the Red Mile our actions depends on the activity of the individual.

 It doesn't depend on who you are but what you do."

 "Strategies are in place," he says. Contingency plans, the cop calls them. "We will not tolerate offences and we will ensure an appropriate response."

 He hastens to add. "But we're going with the positive attitude."

 Let's hope it works.


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