I don’t know where to start.
How about I was born in Vancouver. Most people aren’t born in Vancouver. Even most people who live in Vancouver aren’t born in Vancouver. We’re a city of immigrants. We win awards for livability or multiculturalism. We’re proud of the city we’ve built and we were only too happy to show it off to the world during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Even during last week’s UFC event journalists were marveling at how nice it was to have the weigh-ins at Jack Poole Plaza where the Olympic Torch resides.
The weather was great today. People were wearing shorts and sunglasses. People were leaving work early and heading to the hockey stadium or downtown or to a neighborhood bar or restaurant to watch the Vancouver Canucks play the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Hockey is an emotional game. It is a violent game. It still has fighting in it and some people don’t want to take fighting out of the game. Players get seriously hurt, especially in the hotly contested Stanley Cup Playoffs. However due to the cost of tickets and the cost of beer at the stadium, fans usually can enjoy the game with little more than some verbal abuse from opposing fans. There is no need for separate sections of the stadium like there is in many soccer stadiums for ‘away fans’. Fan clubs don’t clash before or after the game. The Vancouver Canucks draw a very broad demographic of fans from little kids to grandmas, from recent immigrants to people who still hate Battling Billy Smith.
It’s true there was a riot after Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Vancouver lost to the New York Rangers. However the city, the police, citizens, businesses have had 17 years to think about what they would do differently. The Olympics went off without any troubles in the stands or the crowded downtown streets even after Canada’s Victory in the Gold Medal Hockey game. Sure some people were arrested. But for the most part it was a peaceful happy crowd.
All six games leading up until Wednesday’s game had seen large peaceful crowds converge on the downtown core. City staff and police officials created ever larger public sites for fans to watch the game outdoors in a liquor free environment. Sure every bar and restaurant was full. People started lining up at noon to get into some bars downtown. Most everyone was looking forward to the game and possibly the first Stanley Cup Victory for the franchise.
It was not to be. People where I watched the game were sad. But we paid our tabs, thanked our hosts for their service and started to walk home. It is true after the trophy was awarded the CBC cut to one car on fire in front of the post office, but when you have a 100,000 plus people in the streets it is hard to avoid all property damage. On my way home I stopped twice. My phone’s battery was dead. I talked to a blogger. I got a burrito. I could see smoke coming from the downtown core but I didn’t give it too much thought. I believed that police and city staff were prepared and that most people like me would just go home.
However as I checked Twitter after the game and turned on the CBC I became more and more upset. I couldn’t believe the rioting and the looting. I also couldn’t believe the police read the riot act and the crowd didn’t disperse. I couldn’t believe people would bring black ski masks to downtown Vancouver in June for any purpose other than to cause trouble. I couldn’t believe how many people ignored the police and just kept smashing stuff, burning stuff, stealing stuff, and recording the whole scene.
The last is key. Vancouver is a very tech savvy town. I follow 100s of Vancouverites on Twitter. News of the riots spread fast and photos and video of the perpetrators started to be collected. The Mayor and the police made plans to review the footage. The news people kept filming and kept broadcasting. But some of the idiots just didn’t get it. I don’t know how many times I’ve written about writing for your future boss or how many times I’ve stressed the importance of maintaining a good reputation. I don’t know how many stories you have to hear about people posting stupid shit to Facebook.
Well the shit is going down tomorrow and in the weeks to follow as a lot of people are on film doing a lot of stupid illegal shit. Some people have already been caught by social media sleuths and central repositories of photos and video are flooding the blogosphere. The world was watching. And the idiots, the anarchists, the assholes, the drunks, whatever you want to call them. They have moms, dads, bosses, classmates, friends, etc. and if they think the police are just going to forget about the whole thing after 17 hour shifts fighting an angry mob.
Stupidity isn’t a strong enough word.
I selected two tidbits I saw online to add visual stimuli to this post. And I might check Flickr for one or two more Creative Commons licensed photos. I’m firmly on the side of you do the crime, you do the time and there is no justification for rioting and looting on a sunny day in beautiful Vancouver British Columbia.
- The Globe and Mail has an excellent collection of photos of idiots soon to have criminal records
- The Huffington Post has some higher resolution photos of the riot
- Global BC television has plenty of video of the riot
- Mashable has a bunch of photos taken from Twitter feeds
- Some people tried to intervene, the crowd lays the boots to them on video
- The role social media played in documenting the riot and probably in apprehending the culprits
- The National Post’s collection of photos from the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot
- BC Business has one of the best pieces on why the riots happened and who the rioters may be.
- Sports Illustrated has 35 high quality pics of rioters in action
- Some of the rioters are turning out to be high school students, their classmates are outing them on Facebook and elsewhere, Nathan Kotylak thought it would be a bright idea to blow up a cop car, he was caught on film and outed. There appears to be a WordPress blog devoted to this now. Strange world we live in…
- Jason Li and Brydon Harker are two more high school students outed by their “friends” on Facebook and then truly outed by Vancouver bloggers and irate citizens.
- Profanity laced response from “the arts community” that is growing in popularity on Twitter. In short after these riots good luck organizing a public event in Vancouver, especially if you want to serve alcohol.
- Jon Chiang was downtown with a camera, he’s put pictures on WordPress and Flickr.
- From the Globe and Mail: What went wrong in Vancouver?