The Vancouver Riots

I am embarrased and ashamed.

After Boston won the Stanley Cup, chaos erupted in downtown Vancouver. I'm sure you've seen the pictures, and watched the video.  It was something that we shouldn't be seeing in a country like Canada. Just 16 months ago, Vancouver hosted the Olympics in what many can agree was one of the most unifying moments this country has ever seen.  The world watched Vancouver celebrate the winter olympics, and watched Vancouver, and the country, celebrate our game.  Last night and today the world again has been watching, watching a city burn.  They watched looters destroy businesses, and violent fights.  Exact numbers aren't yet known, but there have been several stabbings, and all we can hope for is that no one died in the riots.

I don't remember the riots of 1994. I was 7 when they happened, and didn't really care what was happening in the world.  But I, like many others, have seen the videos of it, and were appauled at how Vancouver acted in 1994.  After the Olympics of 2010, many thought that Vancouver was past that. Clearly, they were not.

Now, lets be clear.  The people who rioted for hours were *not* the majority.  There were over 100,000 people in downtown Vancouver last night for the game.  Only a few thousand were really involved in the riots, with only several hundred likely doing the most damage.  The type of people that will do something like this are the type of people who would have done the same had Vancouver won.  They were a group of people who were just looking for an excuse to incite a riot, and having 100,000 people in a (relatively) small area to basically serve as cover for them was an easy setup.  Many of the worst rioters covered their faces with bandannas to try to hid their identity.  The people who would do this are the type of people who were prepared to do this.  Not many people who would "spontaneously" join a riot would even think of doing something like that.  Those people knew exactly what they were doing, and they were there for one reason, and one reason alone.

I stayed up very late last night watching live coverage of the events, and it sickened me to watch people causing that much damage.  I am almost afraid to look at the pictures that will come out this morning, of the charred vehciles, glass and garbage in the streets.  This riot will cost millions of dollars, and the people who will be hurt the most are the small business owners.  It is disgraceful.

It is shameful that a small group of people have put a black eye on the most beautiful metropolitan area in the country.  Here we are, the morning after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the game almost seems like a distant memory right now.  At a time when we should be celebrating our sport, we now have this to deal with.  Instead of talking about hockey, the playoffs, or the final, we have to try to defend our country's image and our reputation to the world.  There are many countries in the world where hockey is a sport that they barely know the name of, but this morning they are talking about Vancouver, for all the wrong reasons.

The worst part of this is that Vancouver, Canada's olympic city, has now list the wonderful respect and reputation it garnered worldwide in February 2010 during the Olympics.  The years of planning for that event, and the wonderful 2 weeks that the world witnessed have been erased, replaced with pictures of cars on fire and people looting businesses.  A small group of people have done this, and destroyed Vancouver's reputation to the world.

MAny efforts are already being made to work to clean the city up.  The Vancouver Police are asking everyone who was downtown last night to submit their video and photos so the police can identify those who caused damage, and bring them to justice.  Facebook groups are being organized to help clean up the streets of downtown Vancouver, as well as posting pictures of those who did take part in the riots. While I don't necessarily recommend putting the pictures directly onto Facebook, I hope that the Police get everything they need.

I'd also like to say that CTV had by far the best coverage of the riots last night.  While other news organizations stopped their coverage for part of the night, CTV pre-empted everything, and continued to cover the riots, even after I finally went to bed.  Their reporter on the ground, Rob Brown, did a simply sensational job covering this, along with his camera man.  They put themselves in danger to bring what were by far the best pictures and video I could find last night.  Last night CTV provided an example of journalism at it's best, and I thank them for that.  On a similar note, all of that coverage was streaming live on CTV's website, which is where I was watching it.  that was also a great example of how "traditional" journalism can use new media to provide news, and I wish it happened more often. I've been saying for years that news should be streamed live to the internet, and this only cemented that.

Here I am, about 12 hours after the Stanley Cup was awarded to Boston, and I've written nearly a thousand words. Not about the game, or anything to do with the game.  I've written a thousand words about the shameful act of a few thousand people who decided that last night, they were going to do everything they could to destroy a city.  I know that the majority of the people in the lower mainland were not involved with this riot, but that does not change the fact that the morning after, we are not talking about what we should be talking about.  We are talking about one of the most shameful things I have ever seen in my life.  It is very unfortunate because 10 years from now we will not remember the amazing run by the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup. We will not remember some of the truly fantastic hockey games along the way in the playoffs, and we will not remember how Boston was able to celebrate their first win in 39 years.  We will remember Vancouver, and the night the city was set on fire.

I am embarrassed and ashamed.