Friday, June 17, 2011

Vancouver Riots

I would be remiss if I didn't post about what has been going on in Vancouver over the past 48 hours.  Wow, it feels like more than that, but here it is Friday morning and it's really only been a day and a bit.  Allow me to explain.....

In case you are not living in Canada, or you don't follow hockey the deciding Game 7 for the Stanley Cup took place in Vancouver BC (Canada) on Wednesday June 15th.  The Vancouver Canucks had been in this situation before-playing for the Stanley Cup against the New York Rangers in 1994.  The Canucks lost that year, and the city of Vancouver found itself in a riot.  Everyone was talking about the potential for a riot this year if the Canucks lost.  Ty (my fiance) stayed downtown and went to a bar in the early afternoon to take part in the festivities.  The entire city was electric.  The Canucks were the 1st place team in the NHL, they won their division title, they had beaten (sometimes barely) every team they faced and they had made it to Game 7 of the Final Series.  I believe a lot of people really felt the Canucks were going to win.  They didn't.  The Boston Bruins opened the scoring in the 1st period and won the game 4-0 and are the Stanley Cup Champions.  Within minutes of the loss the 100,000 people who had come into the downtown core found themselves amidst a riot.  Hockey fans were flipping cars, burning cars, smashing retail store windows, looting said stores (including the Hudson's Bay Department store, London Drugs, Future Shop, Sears, the Bank of Montreal), lighting bus shelters and garbage cans on fire.... I'll let the photos do the talking...
LOOK at how MANY people were downtown-packed like sardines. This is just one of the many "fanzones".  If you hadn't left the downtown core before the rioting started, it was very difficult to get out.  Streets were blocked, buses weren't operating because of the danger, and 2 of the bridges were closed to traffic.  PS this is barely 4 blocks from my office!
This is in front of the Hudson's Bay Co. Department store on Granville Street.
This photo looks like it's a still from an apocalyptic movie to me-so surreal. 
I have walked down this street to get to work almost daily for the past several years!
Yes, those are police vehicles on fire....
Vancouver riot 2011
This is SO NOT ok. 
As a Canadian (more so than a Vancouverite) I am deeply offended by this.

I'm sorry, but I have to question why the police are just standing there? 
While they are clearly not in riot gear or necessarily prepared to deal with the situation I'm frustrated that this scene exists.  The law could not bring law and order?
There are more incredible photos of the riot here and here

In no way do I condone what happened.  Respectful hockey fans, and fans of professional sport should not act like this.  Many people who were interviewed, including the Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson and BC Premier (like a US Governor) Christy Clark said that the destruction and violence was caused by a "handful of hooligans" and that "99.99% of people in Vancouver don't act like this" blah blah blah.  I'm sorry to disagree with these elected officials, but an event like this truly shows that this is a city of people who behave this way.  This is a City that allows these things to happen-and we have to own up to that.  The other big quote of the night was" the people who took part in the riot weren't Canucks fans".....and that's simply not true.  Sure, it's possible that the people who instigated the riot, the people who came downtown with Molotov cocktails and jerry cans of gasoline and an intention to riot weren't Canucks fans.....but to the rest of the world, it was clear that Canucks fans were a big part of it-and by lying and saying that fans weren't involved is simply an attempt to shield Vancouver's  (and the Canucks hockey organization's)  reputation.  I've done A LOT of reading about who, what where, when, why, but one of my favourite articles about the riot is from the Globe & Mail.  It is a very well written piece and I agree with the majority of it.  I did feel that the police maybe didn't do as much as they could have, but they truly were out numbered and probably felt a little bit hopeless.  I am disappointed that there wasn't a stronger police presence (not necessarily action) that could have curbed this behaviour. Proactive vs reactive.

That being said, I think it's very naive of this City (Greater Vancouver including all suburbs) to think that this WASN'T going to happen.  I've lived here for only 6 years and I knew it was going to happen.  Knew it in my heart of hearts.  I'm actually quite insulted and skeptical that residents were so surprised, hurt and shocked that something like this happened here.  People keep asking "why did it happen?  This sort of thing didn't happen during the Olympics".  WELL DUH!  The Olympics, the pinnacle of professional sport and competition, is about coming together as a world, as a nation to celebrate sport. (Not to mention the millions of dollars the country spent on security including airport style security x-rays/metal detectors at each and every event).  Olympic athletes take a pledgeCanuck has a broken back, and countless other injuries less critical and unreported).  The very mentality and intensity of the Stanley Cup Finals fueled this riot-it may not have started it, but it definitely fueled it.

Are you wondering about Ty?  He was at a bar on Robson & Granville with co-workers (red dot on map).  The bar he was at is about 4 blocks away from where the rioting stared in front of the flagship Canada Post on Georgia Street (yellow dot). 

Luckily Ty got out of downtown safely.  He was not involved in any rioting; steered clear of it completely.  I picked him up from the Skytrain shortly after 9pm and we watched the news for the rest of the night.

Post Riot Clean-up - Let's help VancouverQuickly a movement started on Facebook "Post Riot Clean Up-Let's Help Vancouver". (Canuck sweeping logo created by Nick Zarzycki).  On Thursday June 16th, hundreds of Vancouverites (and people from Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Mission etc etc) came to downtown Vancouver ready to help, ready to clean, ready to restore order.  I applaud those people-it was a truly kind and Canadian gesture.  It was their attempt to show the world that this is not Vancouver, that the riots are not a reflection of our City.

Check out this Flickr account for Clean Up Pics.  Or Search for "post Riot Clean Up-Let's Help Vancouver" on Facebook.

 This is really inspiring and should prove that sportsmanship always prevails. 
 I'm so proud of this Boston fan! 

To read more about the clean up efforts click here

There is campaign on Facebook to post pictures of the riot and looting and identify the participants in those photos-which many people have already done and continue to do.  Citizens are also encouraged to upload their videos to YouTube and email the link to the Vancouver Police Department.  All evidence should go straight to the police.  Period.  I feel that we would be better served by not posting these people's faces anywhere online-they are looking for glory. 
 I have read their obnoxious status updates of the pride they take in their participation in the riot. 
Because they deserve to be shamed?  Because they deserve to be publicly humiliated? Many people feel this way. But to me they deserve to be prosecuted. 
They deserve to be held accountable to the laws of our country. These are clearly people who have no respect for civil society, morals, ethics, or social decency.  They will not feel shamed, they will not be embarrassed by law-abiding citizens who point the finger at them and call them out as the 'bad guys'.  They're happy for the attention.  They think they will get away with it (I'm afraid that unfortunately many will get away with their actions.  It will be SO difficult to prove actual involvement except with video of people participating in the riot, which does exist and will help if brought to the police).  But these people have grown up without consequences and in my very humble opinion, should be victim to consequences.  By trying to shame the people involved and calling them outcasts or hooligans makes us just as bad.  We are continuing to glorify their actions-we are partaking in mob mentality just as the rioters did.  People who are trying to shame the rioters are essentially a lynch mob and are no better than those who started this mess.  It is our job as citizens to live a law-abiding life.  To lead by example. It is the laws and the courts of this country that will serve these rioters with justice.  And that is truly the best victory of all.

This is graffiti-so while it's a nice gesture, it's still kinda wrong :)
All in all it has been a very surreal couple of days.  I literally can't believe that this happened. Ty & I both went to work downtown on Thursday, business as usual.  It smelled a little like charred metal, and except for the plywood windows, you really wouldn't have known what had gone on just 10 hours ago.  To look at the pictures is very weird; I can't describe it.  Not to mention, I lost my job on Wednesday (prior to the start of the game) so the wind was knocked out of my sails twice in a 10 hour period.  I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop; y'know bad things always happen in threes. But I am resilient and faithful.  I know that when God closes a door, it's really because He wants you to go through the window instead!  So I will trust in His plan and re-evaluate my life and my path. 

1 comment:

Lindsey Lu said...

wow that is beyond insane.....Im glad you are safe. crazy