Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

June 16, 2011

Riot - A Black Mark on a City

We made it out safely.

I guess that's the first, and most important thing about last night.

In other ways, it was such a night for disappointment. Disappointment then turned to shame and embarrassment, and anger as well.

(Thanks to Lisa Johnson)

Let's get the easy part out of the way first. The Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins. It was a vicious series, full of cheap shots, hard hits, and play unbecoming of a sports league. But with the joke the NHL has become, I guess that shouldn't be too surprising.

But I'm proud of the Canucks. They played hard for two months, but just did not have enough gas for this final game. It looked like they were operating on fumes.

I'm not proud of what this city became last night.

We were at the game, and stayed just long enough to give Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL and all around asshole, a healthy boo as he emerged to present the Stanley Cup to the Bruins. Bettman is widely hated among hockey fans, so even if the Canucks had won, he would have been booed, before we went back to cheering our team for their accomplishment.

We left as soon as we finished the booing, and headed out. Many people had stayed to see the whole ceremony, so while the street outside Rogers Arena was crowded, it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been after Friday night's game.

After thinking about actually walking up Dunsmuir Street and through the crowd, we decided that it would probably be a lot better if we took a right turn, walked down to Pender street, and caught a bus instead. This would skirt around the majority of the crowd.

As we were walking toward Pender, we looked back toward the center of the city.

And we saw the first plume of smoke.

"I hope that's a bonfire," I said hopefully, though I knew it wasn't.

(Thanks, Mashable)

As we were waiting for the bus, I checked Twitter (the only way to get news nowadays) and saw reports of the first of what would be many burning cars on this night.

Vancouver had turned into a nightmare.

Multiple cars were overturned and set on fire. Newspaper boxes were thrown through storefront windows. Millions of dollars in damage occurred.

(Thanks to Mashable)

They say history repeats itself. It's such a cliche, yet cliches become that way because they're often true.

I wasn't here in 1994, when the Canucks lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the hated New York Rangers. That game was on the road, but there were still riots in the city. People still talk about the riots of '94.

They may not do that anymore.

Because we surpassed them.

As we were sitting at home after our (thankfully) uneventful bus ride home, watching the news (CTV did a remarkable job covering this), our hearts continued to break.

But as the coverage continued, I started thinking about other things as well. They continued to talk about how people were refusing to disperse, and I noticed how many people weren't necessarily contributing to the violence, but were instead taking cell phone pictures, an almost narcissistic way of saying "I was there when it all happened. See? Here's me in front of a burning car!"

News outlets, both television and newspaper, were constantly saying "are you down there? Send us your footage! Send us your pictures!" But doesn't that go against the urging, by the media and especially by the police, to "get out of the downtown core"?

In this age of Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets, how much of what happened last night was exacerbated by social media, that need for somebody to be "famous," if only to their friends?

The violence would have started regardless of social media, so I'm certainly not blaming it for what happened. These drunken louts, these anarchists who revel in destruction and were just looking for a way to do it, they would have rioted no matter what had happened. Even if the Canucks had won.

But did social media, or the desire to show off to friends what they saw, via camera phones, did that keep people down there when the otherwise sane people might have left?

That's a societal question that we may never be able to answer.

But I think it is something that authorities have to think about and deal with in the future.

On the good side, though, social media may help bring these idiots to justice, even more than happened in 1994.

People were taking pictures. They were taking videos. And Vancouver police have asked these people to share their pictures with them. And I'm sure there are thousands of them.

A Facebook group has been created for people to upload their photos to, with requests that if somebody knows a person in the picture, to tag them in it.

Of course, some people make it easier than others.

(Thanks to Graeme McRanor, click on image to make it larger and readable)

And some people, last night, have poetic justice inflicted on them.

(Hopefully that won't be taken down, but Youtube took down another version of it, so it will probably disappear shortly)

I am saddened by what happened last night. Even more sadly, I'm not shocked.

The Vancouver Olympics were an example of this city in all its glory. Huge crowds of people milling around, but happy and celebrating. Even if Canada had lost the hockey gold medal game, they would have just been out having fun. It was a 2-week party.

And while malcontents are always around, the police dealt with them quickly and efficiently, and quietly.

Last night, the police were overwhelmed.

(Thanks to Trendsmap)

The individual officers did a wonderful job, but I have to question the plan that was put in place for this. It obviously didn't work.

Last night was an example of this city at its worst. These anarchists (and that's all I can call them, as they certainly aren't "fans") have given this city another black mark on its reputation, replacing the one from 1994 that the Olympics had overcome.

This city is now known again as a city of hooligans.

And it pisses me off. Because I know the beauty of this city. I know how wonderful it can be.

Last night was an aberration, but unfortunately it's an aberration that the entire world saw.

And it took note.

Today, clean-up begins. A Facebook group already has over 12,000 people signed up to come downtown and help.

It's a start.

But sadly, that won't be as widely publicized.

Because if it bleeds, it leads.

And the good stories never get told. Not in this media age.

To all of you out there: Vancouver is a great place.

Don't let last night be your image of our fine city.

Instead, let this be what you think about.

(Thanks to DrumCafe)

Because this is the real Vancouver.


  1. I don't know about the media, but I'm seeing tons on Twitter about the clean up. And with twitter around, who reads/watches the news anyways?

  2. Good point. It is getting talked about a *lot* on Twitter. And that's wonderful.

    But I was talking more about the media in general. When the front page of the newspaper is a full-page picture of a guy standing front of a burning car.

  3. Loved reading this post this morning. Your comment about people filming and taking pictures resonated so deeply with me. Last night, I watched the coverage of the riot from home and asked myself why people felt so compelled to stay around and catch the moments on their phones and cameras. It would seem that social media is somewhat of a paradox: intended to bring people together but also potentially creating a disconnect with reality? We have to remember that this is the first generation to grow up with Facebook and MySpace. I wonder how the use of social media will evolve for generations to come. That said, I realize that the benefits of social media far outweigh the disadvantages.
    You're right about Vancouver being a beautiful city. I was born and raised there and the Vancouver I saw flashing on the screen last night should be seen as nothing more than a flash.

  4. Thanks, Bernadette.

    It's hard to work today, almost harder than it was on the days of the last two games. I had to get this off my chest before I could even think of doing anything.

    You may be right about how social media might be going through its growing pains, as we learn how to best use it, and what the bad parts of it might be.

  5. I agree with Bernadette..this should be seen as just a flash..soon, something new will pop up and as they say, this will be yesterdays news. Does it make it right...No...for me this is very sad news. I too was born and raised here..and still choose to live in one of the most beautiful and safe cities in the world with all the wonderful people here.

    I would hope that our legacy is the Olympics..we had 2 weeks to showcase this amazing place and her peoples. That David, is who we are...this was an example of the few, out of control, behaving like spoiled children..kicking up dirt in the sandbox..understatement I know..but that is the kind of behaviour they were exhibiting..and Shame on Them...and they know who they are.

    Now Social Media will bite them in the butt when their pictures get plastered all over Facebook and the Police come knocking at their door. Instant Karma sucks!

    Just a heal our broken hearts a follow up on the beauty of our lovely home...that would be the "Truth"...of who and what we are all about...use our Media to set the record straight!

  6. We've seen the future and it's narcissitic brats whose life begun and will end with thinking they are owed something just for existing.

    This is our society, where people like Kim Kardasian can be famous for having a sex tape and no discernable skills, so why shouldn't some idiots think they can be "famous" for setting cars on fire?

    And don't get me started with the media. ;)

    And double that on tinfoil hats and black helicopters with respect to the NHL head office. Mr. Gallagher is going to be busy writing many a column on this playoff run. It will most likely be very difficult to disagree.

    And don't think social media is an issue. It's just a tool. It's up to us to be intelligent enough not to abuse or waste it.

    Nice post.

  7. Great post... and I'm sorry about last night. It only takes a few idiots to ruin it for the rest. Glad you guys are okay!

    P.S. That video was awesome, gotta love that karma!

  8. Ravenmyth: You are so right. It was a few, out of control people. In fact, the police are now saying that this was something set off by "criminals and anarchists," people who used this event as a cover for their hooliganism.

    This isn't the city we live in, and maybe I will do a post highlighting the beauty of it.

    Anon: You're right, it is just a tool. That's why I hope people will grow up and learn how to use it.

    Si: Yep, it only takes a few. Thankfully, we missed it all. Just saw it.

    And I do love that video. I'm glad it's still up. :)

  9. Honestly I wasn't aware of the riots until I saw a news feed showing the 'kissing couple' in the midst of the riots (but then again I'm not a hockey fan and I don't Tweet).

    I was shocked at the morons who posted their criminal activity on Facebook but then again, not really. Criminals don't tend to be the brightest bulbs in the chandelier. (Btw- I can't view the video due to a copyright by Brad Raabis?)

    I agree that there is a major issue when the media is encouraging people to send photos/videos while the police are trying to get people to clear the area. And certainly not a Vancouver issue, it happens all the time here. It's appalling.

    I think most people won't let this incident scar their perception of Vancouver, it certainly won't for me.

  10. Hi Raquel!

    Yeah, they took down the video again. I knew they would. Oh well. It was an awesome shot. :)

    I hope people remember more the image of the thousands of people the next day, pitching in to clean up.

    *That's* the Vancouver I know.

    Thanks for stopping by and reading.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.