Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heros and Ass-Hats: The 2011 Vancouver Riots

Can I just start by saying how much it pains me that I have to specify a year when talking about Vancouver riots now?

My Vancouver story has nothing unique, no fresh perspective on it, that needs to be added. I have no first hand story of being downtown because when it became apparent the Canucks were going to lose, we stayed on the other side of the bridge (I did, however, hug a perfect stranger on my walk home. He was about 21 or 22 and was sitting on the grass outside an apartment building crying, wiping his face with the sleeve of his Canucks jersey. I just felt like he could use a hug.) but given the amount I have mentioned the playoffs leading up to this, I did want to take a moment to acknowledge what happened.

Dear Vancouver Canucks: Thank you for an amazing season. Save the last 50 minutes, I wouldn't change a thing (well, maybe a certain eye injury and a certain spine injury, but you know what I mean). Being allowed to come along for the ride as a fan was an incredible experience and I love you all the more for it. You have been fantastic to watch and have achieved amazing things. I look forward to seeing what next season brings. See you in October!

PS. In a strange way, I have to thank you for losing. I would have been downtown with a 2.5 year old and her mom if you had won. Reports and interviews with some of the people stupid enough to still be down there at 10:00pm made me realise that this probably still would have happened if you had won. So, thank you? For keeping my personal safety in mind? What a kind thing to do. I didn't even know you knew me.

PPS. I have waited 30 years for the Stanley Cup to come to Vancouver, I can wait another 30 if I have to. (But please don't confuse my ability to wait with a desire to wait.)

Dear Boston Bruins: Congratulations on your win. You deserved it. Especially Thomas. Someone give that man a big fat bonus. Like, big enough that he'll want to retire and live out the rest of his life far, far away from the hockey rink. I understand Atlanta is beautiful.

Dear Vancouver Police Deptartment: I saw your tweets about people's kind tweets and that today (Thursday) people had been bringing baked goods, snacks and 'thank you's' to your headquarters. That's because you deserved them. You had a no-win situtation on your hands and I think you did an amazing job. Thank you.

Dear Vancouver Police Department Horses: Neigh, neeee-igh, neigh, brrrrrrrrrrffffff, sugar cube whinneeeeeeeeey. Neigh.

Dear CTV and specifically the field reporters/camerapersons: You kept us informed but I never felt like you sensationalized it. That is a difficult line to walk in a situtation like this. Also, thank you for all the wonderful hours of video evidence of people partaking in illegal activity.

Dear Volunteers who cleaned up Vancouver today: I wish I had had time to join you, but I didn't. You came out in droves and you were awesome! Thank you for cleaning up someone else's mess. Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity.

Ass-Hat, Douche-Canoes, Rioters (or the people who just stood there laughing and taking pictures than claimed "but I didn't do anything" because that totally means you're not guilty of being a douche-canoe): There are no words to describe how angry you made me and how saddened I was by your actions. There were people who came down that night looking to start a riot (one does not normally bring rocks in a backpack to an outdoor family event unless one is going to build an inukshuk to show the children) but they did not do it alone. There were legitimate Canuck fans in that mob. You are a disgrace to the team you support, to the city that so graciously hosted outdoor events for all the games, to the other fans who didn't need to burn things to feel better, to the province you all hail from (as I'm sure most of you were not from Vancouver-proper), and to the country that gave us the awesome sport of hockey.

I saw the people being interviewed saying "I'm not taking part, I just can't get out of downtown". I also saw the people today who all said there were able to get out of downtown within an hour so when you're telling the camera crew at 10:00pm you couldn't get out of downtown, you're full of it. Yes, busses and taxis weren't coming downtown. Yes, apparently there were delays on the Skytrain. But you know what? You have these things at the end of your legs called 'feet'. Feet are amazing things. If you lift up your right leg and move it forward, your right foot will be in a different location. Do the same with your left leg and foot. If you keep alternating, you start doing an activity that's called 'walking'. Amazingly, your body has been doing this very actitivity since you were about 18 months old. Sure, public or private transit might not have been making it into town, but you could easily have walked over one of the bridges (they were only closed going into town) to where public transit was still running.

There are riots occuring all over the world because people are being denied basic human rights and you riot because of a hockey game. Never mind jail, I'd like to round all of you up and send you to Burma, Iran, Libya, or any other oppressed nation for a year. Try to riot there and see how far you get before the police just open fire. I'd give you three minutes tops. By the way, they won't be firing tear gas and rubber bullets.


Steve said...

It’s scary and frightening how people can react when a team wins or loses a big game. It’s just sports! I hope every fan who caused all of that property damage is held civilly and criminally liable. The courts must send a message that violence can’t be tolerated.

Shannon said...

Awesome post! Unawesome are the reasons you had to write it...I am so glad that we were not down there. Although, we would have hightailed it out of there with J on my back using our feet...

AndreaClaire said...

Steve: I completely agree, and while I do feel like those who turn themselves in should be given better deals (otherwise, what's the encouragement for other people to turn themselves in?), they too should still be held responsible for their actions.

Shannon: Me too! I've since talked to a friend who was down there (at the game and got caught in the riot on his walk back to the hotel with his family) and it was interesting to hear him talk about it as at one point he and his cousins were stuck between the mob and the police line. Also really interesting to hear him talk about the feelings of guilt for not trying to stop people especially after they started hearing stories of people who did stand up to the mob.

Shannon said...

I have a friend who got stuck near the post office. I was going to give her heck for taking pictures...but then she said whenever they thought they had a clear path out of the area, a fire or a fight would break out in front of them and they'd have to retreat to some doorway that was their "safe spot" until a new route opened up. She said that was the hardest part of getting out - getting away from that very very glad we stayed home...

Anonymous said...

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