Friday, June 17, 2011

Madness Night in Canada

Even before the final seconds had ticked off the clock and extinguished the Vancouver Canucks dreams of a Stanley Cup, things had begun to unravel rather badly on the streets of one of Canada's most recognizable cities.

Vancouver, the jewel of the nation one year ago, awash in the joy and celebration of a remarkable Winter Olympiad, instead was unrecognizable to the world, a home of shattered glass, burning cars and angry louts , some drunken, some stoned, some both. A collective which defied all that was civil in their quest for their own personal bit of fame and dishonour.

We rarely dwell on the social issues on our hockey blog, we prefer to keep its entries in the sphere of the game and issues associated with it, our little island from the world.

But sometimes events dictate that the game take a second place, that's a sad commentary on the end of a fascinating Stanley Cup playoff year, the drama of two months of intense competition left aside for the moment as we digest the horrid, senseless scenes of destruction and violence on Canada's third largest metropolis, the western gateway to a nation that thankfully welcomes all and simply asks that those that have chosen Canada abide by our rules and regulations.

From the visuals of a horrific Wednesday night we can only say  it's too bad it seems that those of us that have been here for a while now and have benefitted from all that Canada provides, don't follow our own advice.

Much was said on Thursday of the nature of that crowd that ran amok for more than three hours following a hockey game, initially described as a hockey riot, we offer up the thought that this was a riot that used a hockey game as a cover.

In past years,  we would be found watching the post game interviews,  enjoying the celebrations of the players from the ice and commiserating with the vanquished squad that saw the dream of any Canadian kid that ever put on blades dashed with that final horn.

And yet, with the obvious indication that something was going very, very wrong on the streets of a city I've enjoyed so many times over the years, I instead sat transfixed to my television, switching channels through the hours, mortified that we can be reduced to a pack of mad dogs seeking to offer nothing but anger and hatred, a collective with nothing to offer than destruction, violence and theft.

This was once again a familiar scene, reminiscent of the mobs we've seen in the past,  whether in 94 on Vancouver's Robson street, rampaging at the start of the Olympics in downtown Vancouver last year, or through the streets of Toronto in 2010 laying waste as they travelled through the nations largest city. There may be new faces that join in, but there are just as many of the usual suspects, the dark underbelly of our society and a concern that needs to be addressed on a national basis.

Many things jumped into our thoughts during those hours of disgust Wednesday night, such as why so many chose to stay and watch rather than leave and allow the police to do what was so desperately needed to bring such havoc under control.

Those that turned the streets into a carnival of destruction by cheering on the slugs on the streets, are just as culpable as those that burned cars, broke windows and assaulted people seemingly at random. By being there and egging them on, they became part of the problem they as the audience provided the fuel to a fire that spread in far too many directions.

On a night full of losers and their enablers, there were heroes of the night as well,  those who daily serve us in cities across this country and around the world.

First and foremost, the police that bore the brunt of a mob that raged at authority as though they were entitled to lay waste to their city by right, the "riot plan" as it was frequently referred to by the Mayor and police spokespersons, seemed to be more of an impediment for the front line responders of the Vancouver Police and those called in from the outlying areas.

The line that is frequently refered to as the thin blue line, and indeed it seemed awfully thin on Wednesday, facing off against a raging mob with no discernible ambition other than to destroy. Vancouver's residents can be proud of their cops on the streets, they tried valiantly to keep a lid on things as best they could, seemingly dreadfully short of the kind of resources required for such an out of control mob.

At points Wednesday night the Mayor and other municipal representatives claimed that things were progressing according to their plan, if so, it would appear that it's time to knuckle down and develop something else.

For what seemed like an hour, if not more, it was as though the mob was ruling the city.

We have nothing but empathy for the Fire fighters, unable to do what they bravely do at every call, respond to dangerous fires and provide rescue services as the mob blocked access, at times actively engaging the fire fighters with bottles, cans and other items of what was very much an urban war zone.

Ambulance attendants and paramedics, normally available with but a call, could only stand by frustrated as calls for assistance were stymied by a collection of miscreants who had no care of the injured or the endangered, but only of their own evil.

And even ordinary citizens, who stood at great peril to their own lives in the face of a mob, pleading for civility, a call ignored with disdain and churlishness at its most extreme.

There will be the requisite investigation into what went wrong and while the Mayor and Premier put on their stern faces on Thursday and vowed that the festival scenes that made up the Vancouver landscape over the last two months would still go on in the future..

However, after Wednesday night you have to think that in the end, public safety will dictate that the Live Zone experiments are gone for the foreseeable future, if not longer.

A sad commentary that the greater good of the community can be held hostage by a band of scum, cowards one and all.

The Vancouver Canucks lost a hockey game and a championship on Wednesday night, that happens in sports but life goes on.  But on a night when a game should have been celebrated for the national passion that hockey is, it instead became but an afterthought.

More importantly beyond a game, a city lost a bit of its soul, it's bounce, it's reason for being on Wednesday.

It too will come back... eventually.

Vancouver still has much to offer to its visitors and residents alike, but the feel good spirit of community that was spawned from the Olympics is gone, left in rubble on the streets of Vancouver.

Those responsible and those that joined in on the madness of Wednesday night may yet be brought to justice, though one wonders if  even in this era of social media, camera phones and YouTube videos if that is even possible, we  hope so but the task we fear is going to be an onerous one for the authorities.

If  the net results of the aftermath of 1994 are any guideline, few if any will ever suffer any real consequences from their actions.

The massive defiance of common sense, civility and rule of law was created by creatures I don't recognize and refuse to acknowledge as even human, I'm thankful that there are still more of us that understand that there is much to be lost to the tyranny of those that only want to spawn anarchy.

The Vancouver Police, RCMP and other forces from the Vancouver area took back the streets on our behalf on Wednesday night, as a society we need to make sure that the message gets out, that those streets remain ours and not the domain of the likes of those we saw Wednesday who may think otherwise.

Below we've collected a number of items of note from the explosion of ugliness on the streets of Vancouver, sadly, there's much more of them to archive than there are of the game we should have been talking about today.

Vancouver Province-- Riot brought under control but looting, damage across Vancouver's downtown ...
Vancouver Province-- Vancouver chaos captures the world's attention
Vancouver Province-- Vancouver a city tarnished in wake of riots
Vancouver Province-- Vancouver, you need to grow up
Vancouver Province-- We haven't progressed since '94
Vancouver Province-- Real time coverage of the riot in downtown Vancouver
Vancouver Province-- Want to send photos/videos to cops to help I. D. people...
Vancouver Province-- Post-riot insurance claims trickle in
Vancouver Province-- Transit stopped as rioters bring downtown to a halt
Vancouver Province-- Read Gregor Robertson's statement on the Stanley Cup '11 riot here
Vancouver Province-- Clean up begins in riot struck Vancouver
Vancouver Province-- Citizens using social media to round up the rioters
Vancouver Province-- Overwhelmed police showed 'admirable self-restraint'
Vancouver Province-- Using online posts to track down rioters 'a slippery slope': Expert
Vancouver Province-- Surrey, Delta police sent to Vancouver after drunken rioters trash downtown

Vancouver Province-- We can't be trusted to celebrate
Vancouver Province-- Chaos erupts after Canucks loss
Vancouver Province-- Vancouver top cop blames Stanley Cup riot on 'anarchists'
Vancouver Province-- Downtown Vancouver rocked by Stanley Cup post-game riot
Vancouver Province-- Emotion, booze, create 'perfect storm' for hockey riots
Vancouver Province-- 2011 Stanley Cup riot "worse" than 1994
Vancouver Province-- Mayor, premier say the city won't be cowed by 'losers' who ...
Vancouver Province-- World bemused by Vancouver's 'ice hockey' riot
Vancouver Province-- Most of 100 alleged rioters released as B. C. prepares for their day in court
Vancouver Province-- Clark's call for justice in Vancouver riot aftermath must be backed by action
Vancouver Province-- Business continues in wake of lotting during riot
Vancouver Province-- Searching for Good Samaritans involved in stopping riot, cleanup
Vancouver Province-- Vancouver police riot containment strategy worked: Chief
Vancouver Province-- Vancouver unites to clean up shattered city
Vancouver Province-- Plywood canvas keeps Vancouver united
Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver mayor and police chief blame Stanley Cup riot on anarchists
Vancouver Sun-- Shocking Vancouver riot footage - Cars burning and people cheering
Vancouver Sun-- Video footage of Canucks riot in downtown Vancouver
Vancouver Sun-- Bus service grinds to a halt, transit system in chaos, as riots rage
Vancouver Sun-- Angry Canucks fans erupt in violence on Vancouver's streets
Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robinson 'extremely' disappointed about riots
Vancouver Sun-- Psychology of a riot: They found it exciting
Vancouver Sun-- TransLink to review its post-game riot operations
Vancouver Sun-- World coverage of Vancouver riot tarnishes city's reputation
Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver businesses begin to tally the damage from vandalism and looting
Vancouver Sun-- Canuck hockey dream is now Vancouver's nightmare
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks' marvellous season turns to dust... then shame on us 
Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver wakes up to smashed storefronts, debris from Stanley Cup riot
Vancouver Sun-- Premier Clark says those responsible for Vancouver riots will be hunted down
Globe and Mail -- What went wrong in Vancouver?
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Premier promises to expose rioters to public gaze
Globe and Mail-- Busting myths of Vancouver's destructive Stanley Cup riot
Globe and Mail-- Vancouver cleanup aided by ordinary people after Facebook callout
Globe and Mail-- Win, lose or draw, a riot was all but certain
Globe and Mail-- When hosers and hooligans go on the loose
Globe and Mail-- Riot sparks busiest night in 20 years at Vancouver hospital
Globe and Mail-- Facing down Vancouver's rioters: This is my neighbourhood
Globe and Mail-- 'Thugs and thieves and lunatics': MPs decry Vancouver hockey riots
Globe and Mail-- Anger, embarrassment on social media as Canadians condemn riots
Globe and Mail-- Post-mortem focuses on police numbers, tactics
Globe and Mail-- Transit officials defend service decisions
Globe and Mail-- Riots driven by more than Stanley Cup loss
Globe and Mail-- A tale of two riots: the role of social media
Globe and Mail-- Mayhem and looting in the crazed, smokey streets
National Post-- Organized 'anarchists' were not behind the Vancouver riot
National Post-- Of course the Vancouver rioters were hockey fans
National Post-- Facebook to Vancouver rioters: You're on camera, jerks!
National Post-- Blood on the streets after Vancouver loss
National Post-- This is why we can't have nice things
National Post-- Vancouver riots, what happened where
National Post-- Riots, fire, destruction after Vancouver's loss
National Post-- Rioters take over Vancouver's streets
National Post-- Anatomy of the mob as a bunch of clowns with cameras
National Post-- Punish those who tore the heart out of Vancouver
Toronto Star-- A Terrible Night After a Terrible Hockey Defeat
Toronto Sun-- Canucks riot draws international mockery

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