Introduction- Juma Wood
Two weeks ago the Beams & Struts crew embarked on a pet project. We explored the place of sport in the human condition. For the most part, we celebrated the cultural and transcendental significance of athletic beauty, cultural euphoria and peak experience.
But sport can also be a vehicle of expression for the rage that lurks within the culture. Sports riots and hooliganism are not unusual and certainly confirm to many the barbaric nature that underlines sport in our culture. That was kind of our point. We wanted to acknowledge in part that there are healthy channels of expression where the beast can rise to heights of beauty
Vancouver, BC, Canada, among the most highly regarded progressive tourist jewels on the planet, has an anger problem. For two months, the entire province has been abuzz following the Vancouver Canucks run at the Stanley Cup.
Coming on the heels of a remarkably successful Olympics that peaked with an Ice Hockey Gold Medal, the city worked itself into a growing frenzy, anticipating one final orgiastic release. Deep down, we all believed this was our team’s time.
We also believed that this was our time. We threw a great party for the world 16 months ago, and now this one was for us. Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets for each game night, to spectacular photographic effect.
And in a moment the optics changed. Somehow we weren’t prepared for the dark side of the human experience, so often expressed in the context of sport. Somehow, 17 years after exactly the same event under exactly the same circumstances, we had duped ourselves into believing that this wasn’t possible. We were wrong.
Immediately our mayor and police chief and much of the media began circulating the narrative that a few bad apples had ruined it for the rest of us. Not true, as you will see in some of the first hand counts below.
This special edition of Six Perspectives On brings you no less than seven perspectives on the Vancouver riots.
Here's my take on why the riots happened: we're a culture of spectators.
We grow up playing sports and games. In phys ed. At recess. In the park. In the backyard. We play for fun and get exercise as a bonus.
In high school everyone participates in phys ed, fewer qualify for the teams. The stakes are higher. You play other schools. Old rivalries play out. The spectators know and interact with the team members.
Fewer still play in university. Athletes have been scouted, given scholarships. Pretty much everyone else stops playing. We'll live vicariously through the pros. Whom we seldom if ever meet.
Fans attending a game might affect the outcome. Maybe. Fans at home, or watching on the streets downtown: not in the slightest. Cheer, boo, wave your flag, curse the ref all you want, no one in the arena has an inkling of your desires.
There's a horrible impotence at the root of the spectator's role, multiplied by how emotionally invested you are in the game. If it's more than just entertainment for you. If you aren't experiencing victories and accomplishments in your own life.
There's a horrible impotence at the root of most of our lives, multiplied by how little control we have over what we spend our time doing. It's a given our jobs won't fulfill us. The government won't do what we want. The tiniest minority gets rich and powerful. The internet offers some good stuff, but mostly provides empty addictive diversion. Summer movies and popular TV shows promise so much, deliver so little, and keep us in a passive role. And they're about people doing things: an ordinary kid becomes the greatest wizard the world has ever seen, people have wild love affairs, or wake up with amnesia and discover they're a black ops assassin. Even the supposedly dull and mediocre environment of The Office is crowded with incident, much more so than any office I've ever worked in.
Consider the natural energies running through the bodies of young men, age 16, 18, 19, 20. Testosterone. Self assertion. Will to power. Now stuff them in an impotence box. Tell them to stay there the rest of their lives.
Look at the faces of the Vancouver rioters. Glee. Exuberance. The impotent fan, finally given license (by themselves)(and the precedent of the situation)(and the shadow side of sports culture) to do something. Stoke that testosterone. Assert that self. Run wild with that power. Fuck impotence! Fuck the world that doesn't let us influence whether "we" win or lose! Fuck it all! Fuck you! Fuck everything! SMASH!!!
TJ is a Vancouver-based writer and performer.
I returned to Vancouver after leading a retreat in Edmonton. I didn’t hear about the so-called “riot” until a couple of days later. We’re all ashamed, angry, and wanting the international community to know that the “true” Vancouver is represented, not by the hooligans, but by those who turned up the next day to clean up the mess and register their protest.
But from an evolutionary viewpoint, this violent impulse is embedded in every citizen of every city on this planet. It just takes the right conditions for it to be triggered, especially in young men. The seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals creates just about the perfect conditions for a riot.
I realize that win or lose, there were young men who came with a plan and all the equipment necessary to wreak havoc. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.
Think about it: tens of thousands of young men have watched their heroes, the Sedins, being mauled; players on both teams have been on the receiving end of potentially career ending hits; both sides have launched verbal grenades across the trenches via the media; the tension has been mounting with each successive game; they have been slashing each other with metal weapons; announcers declare that “these players are developing a real hatred for each other” — and that’s a good thing — it’s what makes for a good series. In other words, it’s been war.
But it’s been controlled war. They’ve been engaging each other within a confined space, with referees on the rink, and NHL supervisors watching from the skyboxes for when players step over the line. There are costly penalties meted out, and fines and suspensions for guys that don’t play nice. But when the war spills out into the streets, there is no confined arena, no rules of etiquette, a huge need to let off steam, and a virtual flood of hormones.
Our brains do not distinguish between actual war and controlled war in the form of ice hockey. The exact same hormones that prepare a soldier to fight in battle get triggered in the 20 year-old men watching this staged war on TV. Add to this what theological anthropologist, Rene Girard, calls mimetic contagion, and you have the perfect recipe for mob violence. In other words, when staged violence doesn’t work to settle a mob, it becomes merely contagious. The crowd of young men, like the elite water polo player from an upper middle class family, begins to mimic those who came with an agenda of violence. This is why violence is the central problem of human existence in the Bible. It’s contagious, and these ancient instincts are very close to the surface.
From a Spiral Dynamics perspective, the evolutionary journey back to Warrior consciousness takes about 1/16th of a second, the time it takes for our amygdala, a small almond shaped gland in our brain associated with fear and aggression, to get triggered and release the hormones associated with the flight or fight response. Brain research indicates that the pre-frontal lobes, the part of our brain that helps us to realize that a world exists beyond our immediate feelings, and extends beyond our tribe, doesn’t mature until the age of about twenty-seven.
Even for those over the age of 27, our prefrontal lobes don’t kick in until after the amygdala gets fired off, and without a little training, it will get hijacked every time.
So, let’s see. You have the perfect Molotov cocktail; young men with a triggered amygdala, raging hormones, and under the influence, not only of alcohol, but also mimetic contagion, and who are not mature enough to manage these impulses. Ignite all of that with the match of their team being trounced and poof!
They act stupid, because they literally are stupid — that is, they are functioning from a part of their brain that is more reptilian than mammalian — let alone human.
No, this doesn’t let them off the hook. They are responsible for their behavior. But so are we. I’m concerned about the self-righteous rhetoric coming from politicians and the NHL, and our beloved Rex Murphy. I mean, what did we expect? I suggest that it is because we don’t understand our own biochemistry and social instincts that we are so vitriolic in our cry for severe punishment. Rene Girard developed a very sophisticated theory of “scapegoating violence”, noting that for millennia we have sought out scapegoats to execute as a means of social control. We want to localize the problem in somebody, anybody — other than ourselves — and then eliminate the problem. The alternative is to face our collective complicity in creating the conditions for the outbreak of violence.
I’m with those who would rather see a kind of truth and reconciliation process for the young men who trashed our city. This is not letting them off the hook. At dinner last night, a friend thought that if they come forward and confess, they should receive a sentence of a couple thousand hours of community service. I like his idea. They do need to realize that there are real consequences.
But let’s bring the mayor and the City Council to the table as well. And the hockey players. And ourselves, who sanction and secretly savour the violence on the ice. And the NHL executives and owners, who know that fighting is good for the ratings. Let’s go deeper with this thing than identifying the culprits and sending them to prison, which is little more than a band-aid solution.
This is not about being “soft on crime”. It’s not about the postmodernist tendency to blame the system. It’s a call to be hard on violence, on ice and off, to understand deeply our evolutionary nature, and from that understanding ask ourselves some honest questions that center around our own willful ignorance and complicity.
Bruce is the minister at Canadian Memorial United Church, a leader in the Evolutionary Christianity movement, and the author of several books, most recently If Darwin Prayed.
Idiots. Hooligans. Drunken louts. Criminals. Anarchists (the use of this term bothers me a bit because I’m pretty sure that people with Molotov cocktails in their backpacks have probably never heard of, let alone read, Bakunin, Kropotkin or Goldman).Call them what you will, but while the rioters downtown were indeed all of those things, the riot itself was symptomatic of something far deeper and more profound in the psyche of this city, this province, and perhaps of the country as a whole. Hell, it’s probably symptomatic of the whole of Western Civilisation.
The condemnation is unanimous and wide-ranging. Everybody has been pontificating, wringing their hands, and calling for heads to roll. Everybody has an opinion, and they are, by and large, rote, without depth or nuance, and so totally predictable. Somebody I know actually proffered the opinion that they should have called in the army!My favourite, oh, and this is a goodie, is the dismissal of the rioters as not ‘true’ hockey fans, as not ‘real’ sports fans!! This strikes me as particularly dishonest and defensive. Of course they were Canucks fans, hockey fans, sports fans. But this so-called riot had little to do with the game that occurred earlier in the evening.
I’m going to offer a bit of an alternative – and perhaps more controversial – perspective. No doubt some will confuse my perspective with a celebration of what happened, an excusing or justification. I am doing nothing of the sort. I am simply describing. I think we need to get past that sort of superficial assessment and look a bit deeper.
I was there. I watched as a crowd broke every single window in the Bay, then lit fires up and down Granville Street. I stood by as riot police and snarling dogs pushed the crowd back down a local street. I felt the briefest sting of tear gas as canisters fell from the sky and landed at our feet.
Ice-T, in a recent interview, was asked if he thought talking about his past as a gangster and bank robber was tantamount to ‘glorifying’ his actions. His response was quite simply, “no”. It was fun he said. The adrenaline, the feeling of being alive, of living on an edge was in all actuality quite invigorating. He wasn’t glorifying bank robbing, he was just describing it. And it was fun.
And while I in no way participated in any of the violence or carnage that took place last Wednesday night on the downtown streets, I have to admit, it was all I could do to tear myself away from it. There was an energy, a feeling of liberation unrestrained, of being solely in the moment. Repercussions disappeared, and it was fun. Yes. There, I said it. There was a sort of carnivalesque feeling to the whole thing. And I can sympathise greatly with how easily it would have been to get caught up in the whole thing. How easily to have abandoned the civilised world for a brief journey through anarchy, through the dark world of our animal souls and into our human heart of darkness; how easily given over to the battle that was taking place. One of the most striking images for me was the smiles on the faces of those smashing windows, overturning cars, lighting dumpsters on fire. It was exhilarating.
But more than the fun, it was cathartic. Mindless destruction and the violence that accompanies it can’t be condoned on the basis of a hockey game, but merely dismissing the entire experience of the playoffs and parties and the letting loose that accompanied the ride as ‘unreal’, as just a ‘game’ and not worth getting all worked up about misses a fundamental component of the human, and especially social, experience. It was our carnival, our yearly unloosening, our celebration of our baser emotions, an homage to our reptilian brain.
This was, however, far from mindless. This was perpetrated by young men (and women it should be noted...but yes, mostly men) with little identity over and above their fandom, with little in common with each other or the society at large, who’ve never been initiated into and so live outside of this society, young men with a whole lot of anger. This anger can take many forms, and the other night it took the form of reverence, of joyful exuberance in the sheer act of destruction. No, this was far from mindless.
We live in a society with no ritual. We are the inhabitants of ... in Camus’ La Peste, each of us struggling to find meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. We are mostly powerless, faithless, leaderless and so we become disaffected, we cease – if we had ever been in the first place – to belong. We are angry and have no outlet, no target for that anger. And so we wallow, and every once in a while, we ignite.
More simply put, we’re bored.
And when all is said and done, I have no doubt that we will again fail to ask the right questions. Instead of asking why it was that a small group of rioters could have turned what was supposed to be a celebration into an inferno, how was it that such a thing could have spread so quickly, we’ll content ourselves with asking how we can better have better dealt it once it began. How could we RE-act better?
Andrew is completing his Masters in Urban Studies.
Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh.
Thursday morning of this past week saw a lot of disparaging comments about Vancouver on Twitter. Some of those comments generally lamented the course of events, many were simply scornful and accusatory, and still others sought to understand the riots 140 characters at a time.
One comment that stuck out for me noted that in Greece riots take place over public sector cuts and IMF imposed budgetary measures, whereas in Canada we riot over hockey games. But I wouldn't be so sure about that statement. While the two seem like they're worlds apart, they may have more in common than we think.
The last time Vancouver saw this kind of activity was after its 1994 cup run. But the intensity and ferocity of this year's riots seem to outpace past transgressions. Naturally a great many things have changed in the intervening 17 years. But one of the major events of recent memory was the massive financial melt down of 2008.
The impacts of that event have been ubiquitous and the resulting fragility remains with us three years on as events in Greece threaten to plunge us into a similar crisis. Here in Canada though, the story we keep telling about those events has been largely rosy. The recession certainly took a toll on Canada's economy, but over and over again the narrative we keep repeating is that as a country we escaped the worst of the bottoming out.
The thrust of that narrative is not untrue, particularly if you're like my family and work with a combined income of more than $100K a year. Those of us in a relatively well-off position have definitely fared the past three years not so badly.
The problem with that truth, however, is that not everyone in this country exists in that kind of financial prosperity. Indeed, the average Canadian income for unattached individuals currently sits at $31,500.
So while the broad experience of the country might have been relatively strong, there are many individuals who have struggled a great deal.
And even those of us who have done reasonably well have experienced a wake up call on the stability and sustainability of our previously unusable assumptions around prosperity. We can no longer assume to operate on auto-pilot and assume that the "American Dream" will take care of itself and us.
That realization has brought with it no small amount of anxiety, especially where the immediate impacts have pressed against one's capacity for self-sufficiency. Yet, our almost obsessive insistence about how well we've managed has left us with little room to address and deal with that anxiety. And anxiety left unacknowledged has a way of bubbling to the surface, often in less than healthy manifestations.
Does this explain the entirety of the riots? Of course not. In fact, it is likely next to impossible to definitively determine a single cause or reason for what transpired after Game 7. But to write those actions off as simply the stupidity of amped up hockey fans seems equally if not more ridiculous.
Beneath the seeming jubilation of the Canucks' success has been an undercurrent that was palpable to me even in the brief amount of time I've spent in the city over the past few months. It was an undercurrent of anxiety, fear, and at it's deepest and darkest, anger. And that darkness was on display as a sporting event turned into melee that garnered world attention.
None of which is intended to justify or excuse the actions of the rioters. As a former Vancouverite, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the destruction that took place in my hometown. But if there is a silver lining to becoming a “loser city”, it is in finally acknowledging out our distress and affording ourselves the opportunity to address the fears and challenges that face us moving forward.
Scott is a social media consultant and involved at multiple levels in Provincial politics.
“God save the Queen, the fascist regime, they made you a moron, potential H-bomb”- Sex Pistols
When the seventh game ended we were sad, but also a little relieved. It’d been a long two months and it was finally over. Then CBC television cut to an image of a burning car. Oh fuck, it’s happening. I was actually quite surprised; I just didn’t think it would. So fellow Beams writer Andrew and I collected our supplies, including drums we’d brought for a celebration party, and we headed into the downtown core only a few blocks away. We tried to drum and clamor and invoke a positive atmosphere, but it was quickly apparent that we weren’t going to turn around the ugly spirit that was blanketing the downtown with its surreal other worldliness, tear gas and all.
That evening I followed the riots, staying just about 30 yards back from the major pockets of action, banging a little on my drum and observing. It’s one thing to read about groups and group psychology in the texts of Freud, Eric Hoffer and others, and it’s another thing to observe it first hand. That evening, as sad and idiotic as it was, was a sociological and philosophical goldmine.
One thing I learned about was the ambiguity of anarchy. I had a strange, loud and unusual dialogue going on in my head. On the one hand, it was illuminating and exhilarating to see the social order simply dissolve, to see the regular systems of social control be tossed off. There’s an immense (r)evolutionary power in that, and the events of the ‘Arab Spring’ have shown us how powerful and history making this kind of energy can be. I took the opportunity to keep yelling at people that this was “only practice for when we throw off the bankers and corporate oligarchy that control all the wealth and rule our lives!” I got a bunch of amused smiles and sideways glances, but mainly people just ignored me, too focused on getting to where the havoc was happening.
And it was this other crude, barbaric side of the anarchic outburst that brought out another, somewhat unfamiliar voice in my head- the aristocratic elitist! I heard myself saying out loud, “Where’s the rubber bullets and the water canons. These people are f’in idiots, they should be crushed by riot police!” Andrew had to tell me to stop saying this lest I get my ass kicked. But I couldn’t believe the sheer base, stupidity of the crowd. Noam Chomsky is fond of quoting passages by James Madison and other founding fathers of the United States, where they write openly about never letting the masses get too much control. From one angle, this can be seen as the true face of a power elite that rules over a society in which democracy is only an allusion; from another angle, this sounds like a bloody good idea! That night I truly understood the concept of the rabble, the hoi polloi, the riff raff, the motley mob of the average and unevolved. Nietzsche showered the rabble with scorn in his works, and it was not hard to see why on the Vancouver streets that night. The good, the true and the beautiful were in desperately short supply. No, this night was dominated by the grim energies of Thanatos, or ‘the death drive’.
Freud thought he discovered two fundamental energies that were the twin drives of both human beings and the cosmos as a whole. One he termed Eros- the movement toward higher and higher units of integration and co-operation; and the other Thanatos- the drive toward disintegration, destruction, and death. But what Freud recognized was that Eros is actually the energy of Thanatos redirected upwards toward creative evolution and the building of civilization. But if that great pool of cosmic energy in our bellies sits stagnant, if it has nowhere to go, it will come out, it will erupt one way or another, and more often than not it’s going to be in the savage and unsettling forms that Thanatos takes.
We must look into the societal context within which the riot happened. We live in a society in which passive consumption is the goal of life, a post-God eddy of nihilism as Nietzsche predicted. The most powerful nation in the world, and many of its allies, has been involved in brutal wars for twenty years. The leaders of many Western nations- from Bush and Cheney, to Stephen Harper- act like arrogant bullies, above the law. Greed and corruption in the government and corporate sectors is rife in an era of economic deregulation. Narcissism and infantilism are rampant, and stupidity and Jackass culture is encouraged. Global warming and environmental degradation loom, but national leaders lack any vision to move toward new ways of being, instead perpetuating the corrupt and decaying social order around us. As Johnny Rotten once snarled- “nooooo future, nooooo future, nooooo future for you!”.
We must be careful, as this is a cauldron primed for eruptions of a vicious and ugly Thanatos. Those of us who want and see a different future, who feel a kind of erotic evolutionary urgency in our bellies, must speak our Word and take action, offering living examples of an Eros that’s striving toward a new Earth and a new future. The Promised Land still awaits our enactment, and those young men and women who took part in the riot could still be some of its greatest progenitors if we help lead the way.
Trevor Malkinson is a graduate philosophy major and is attending Vancouver School of Theology to be a Christian minister.
Vancouver, a haven for idealism, progressive drug culture, and New Age spirituality, is awash with disenfranchised youth. Not anarchists as the narrative would have you believe. The perpetrators were in the thousands, not the hundreds. They were fifteen, sixteen, nineteen, twenty, not some focused and organized terrorist group. They were from the city and the suburbs; they were mostly men but were cheered on by young women. They were angry, destructive and reckless.
We are living in a time of deep emptiness at the soul’s core. Vancouver is not Egypt, rising up against overt tyranny. And though there's a fundamental corruption in our economic apparatus as demonstrated by the global financial crises, there were no kids so far as I’ve heard screaming ‘down with the HST’ as they were pile driving a police cruiser.
No, this emptiness is not political in nature, nor is it nihilistic in the way the events of the Holocaust left a God-sized hole in the human psyche. It’s also not merely an extension of the modern age. This emptiness is not a hole, it’s a yearning, for something more than what is being offered up in contemporary culture.
And what replaces it is the shallowness of blockbuster movies; the indifference of leisure sports culture; porn.
If this emptiness had a shape, it would be poised, ready to leap. This young generation is unique in their requirement to marry purpose with action. They don’t work; they live. Hopefully for something greater than themselves.
But they’ve been raised badly. Self-centred, celebrated for breathing rather than doing. It’s a culture of constant (not just instant) gratification. To no end. No depth. No pathway to a promise they intuit in their bones. The culture is hollow. The Vancouver riot was merely a demonstrative event reflecting the quiet riot in the soul of this age.
Juma is a Vancouver-based consultant working with organizational leadership and change issues.
Although I was born and raised in Vancouver I was not in the city for the Stanley Cup finals in 2011. As hard as it was to pull myself away for an internship on the East Coast (knowing that the Canucks were headed to the finals), my predicament was made better by the fact that I would be headed to Massachusetts, just outside Boston, home of our rivals the Boston Bruins.
Watching the games in Massachusetts was pretty uneventful. Local fans were kind and courteous, and although they served-up the usual ribbing of opposing sports fans, I think that just about every single one of them told me they ‘knew’ Vancouver was the better team, and they were just happy to be watching great hockey. Like myself, none of these Boston fans suspected that the Bruins would pull off a huge upset and take the Cup home in 7-games.
As you’ve no doubt already gathered from the other perspectives in this essay, the loss kicked-off the biggest riots Vancouver has seen since, well, the last time we lost Game-7 back in ‘94. Call us suckers for a tradition… And yet, there was something quite different about this riot. Rather, what was different is what happened afterward.
First some context. In winter February 2010, Vancouver hosted the winter Olympic games. That event changed the city in many ways, one of which was the city’s willingness to take to the streets and party in good-natured fun and civic spirit. Throughout the Olympics unprecedented large crowds gathered in the streets, and grew larger each day. Everything was peaceful and good-natured. The city supported the movement by setting up outdoor big-screens and creating a new friendlier police policy that used positive reinforcement rather than brute crackdowns. The result was a tremendous street party on the final day of the Olympics when Team Canada won the Hockey Gold Medal. Everyone was in good spirits, strangers were high-fiving one another, and Vancouver seemed like a new city that had come out of its once conservative shell.
With this bit of context in mind, I was pretty shocked by the riots after the Stanley Cup final. What happened to this good spirit? How did we all descend into chaos?
Some of the other writers on this article have shown that the riots were caused by more than just a few bad apples – that hundreds of people were involved. What I find just as interesting, however, is the civic response of hundreds of other people who acted to counter the poor spirit of the rioters and who have since attempted to make amends for the actions of a Cro-Magnon few.
A poll of Facebook on the morning following the riots illustrates the distaste felt by many Vancouverites:
Alexander B. Okay, I just saw pictures of what happened after I left. What a bunch of jackasses. I'm with you on the nightsticks bonking in the head now.
Joe P. I'm so embarrassed.
Barry K. sooooooo sad, this must be a day where you wish to not have a view [of the city].
Frank L. How embarrassing! So sad that some Vancouverite's have NO class or respect! Come on people ... The world is watching!!
Monica M. This is sad!!
Chris D. has to go into the church tomorrow at 7 am. I'm hoping it's not burnt or massively vandalized. Truly awful.
Jeff M. Losing a hockey game doesn't make you a loser. Getting really drunk and setting a car on fire does.
Payton N. Anyone whose ever actually played hockey before knows that you leave it on the ice.
Tom K. ill be straight..... i laughed when i saw the first car go on fire and then stopped as it escalated ..... not as funny seeing on the news the kid with the clover dale shirt popping his collar ..... its hurt when u find out its a bunch of B&T people causing the bedlam......not a good look
Astrid A. oh Vancover, couldnt you have used that rioting for a good cause and not a hockey game? What zombies. Getting taken over by a majority conservative government is so much more devastating than this. Wake up!
Heather O. People riot in the streets to protest dictatorships and corrupt governments.... people riot in the streets to speak up against human right injustices... tonight, Vancouver "hockey fans" rioted in the streets because a bunch of guys couldn't get a black puck in the net and lost a GAME.... shame on all of you.
Kion T. -Society of the Spectacle-
Morgan B. Now it will be easier for me to explain why I left the so called "most liveable city"... No class!!!
Jason O. the slogan is "we are all Canucks" I wish I wasn't right now and I'm sure the actual Canucks wish they weren't either.
Rochelle B. Truly Pathetic Vancouver.
Kei K. Ugly. Embarrassing.
Rochelle B. can't sleep because of all this awfulness... Need to keep reminding myself that the majority of people are as disgusted as me! :-(
Kelsey N. I think if I was a Canuck, as in one of Vancouver's beloved hockey heroes, I would be pretty ashamed by my fans right now and not all that keen to represent the city next time around. Vancouver doesn't deserve the cup!
Chandra Y. Dear douchebags, kicking & lighting cars on fire, fighting & looting is maybe not the brightest idea you've had, particularly when it’s all caught on film. But I have a feeling that you make bad decisions on the regular and that by now your family is used to the idea of having an embarrassing Dbag for a son. Grow up.
Almost immediately, members of the public set-up social media sites to try to organize clean-up parties. Even my sixteen-year old sister went downtown the next day to help clean up the mess (!). Vancouverites began sending the police department flowers and food in a show of support. Others expressed themselves through notes on police cars or on the boarded-up windows of smashed shops.
Facebook organizers spelled out what volunteers should bring: gloves, garbage bags, friends, and Canucks spirit. Here’s some pictures of some volunteers the morning after, click here.
Chris D. Kudos to the city and all the volunteers. They've really done a great job cleaning up the downtown. The vibe on the street is much more upbeat than it was this morning.
Alexander B. Still the "nicest" city in the world. I mean, come on, how many other rioters clean up after themselves? I've been in three riots, Prague when the Wall fell, race-riot in southern Egypt when I was a teen, Nepal when the king was killed, and I never saw rioters who cleaned up after themselves. Or cops as kind and gentle as the ones last night. Almost too kind and gentle.
Duane F. Wow. I am sure there will not be half the publicity given to the people who stood in the way of looters.
And watch the video below for a pretty intense scene of what was happening on the ground as people tried to stop the madness.
Since the riot people have even begun turning in their fellow citizens to the police in a showing of supreme intolerance of shitty public behaviour. Normally, this sort of thing would remind me of the Chinese Communist Party – turning in your neighbours to the state has a long and scary history. But in this case I’m all for it. I’ve long advocated the public shaming of individuals who commit small crimes that disrupt city life such as graffiti, vandalism, or petty theft. Bring back the stockade I say! – a bit of pelting with rotten fruit is sure to leave a lasting reminder.
If any good can come from this, it’s knowing that there are people in our community that care enough about it to actually get out of the house and try to fix a mess. And it’s an interesting case study on the divergent values within a society. A city is not a homogenous entity with a single citizenry – it’s a pulsing organism that reflects the many facets of its residents; both the good and the ugly.
Bergen is completing his undergraduate studies in International Relations.