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Canucks and Beyond

After the Smoke Clears, Good People Always Rise to the Top

In the aftermath of last night’s rioting, the Vancouver Police Department estimates that some 150 people were injured, some severely, including a man who tried to jump 12 meters from an outside concourse of Roger’s Arena to the sidewalk below. A terrible night.

But a better morning.  From the CP via TSN:

While police said it was mostly young thugs responsible for the mayhem overnight, an equally young crew turned up in jeans and rubber gloves, some with Canucks jerseys, all carrying plastic garbage bags.

Dozens of remorseful and dismayed commuters crowded around the smashed and plywood covered display windows at the flagship Bay store, a historical building that was the first focus of rampaging looters Wednesday night.

Someone had tacked a rough, hand-painted sign that read: “On behalf of my team and my city, I am sorry.” People waited in line to sign it.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said there has been an outpouring of support from citizens.

“People coming downtown to try and help cleanup, trying to get our city back,” he said as he toured the damage.

Many hundreds of people deserve enormous credit and thanks for contributing to this clean up.  Organizing and documenting the hard work have been Twitterers @VancouverClean and over on Facebook, numerous pages (most prominently, Post-Riot Cleanup - Let’s Help Vancouver).

NOTE: Updated at bottom, with video.

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*Image from CTV. Many more photos of volunteers cleaning Vancouver in their gallery.

These sites and others have worked all night and morning to round-up the citizens who’ve showed up in droves today to clean up after this terrible event. And that’s not just a token effort… that’s hard work by hundreds of people—not to mention private business contributing their vehicles and staff to help out, at their own expense—to set the downtown back on its feet.

No doubt, this whole thing reflects badly on Vancouver and worse on Canucks fans. But I hope there are hockey fans out there with the capacity to see this is as the appalling behavior of a small, select group of crazed people, among the 100,000 Canucks fans who peacefully (and fearfully) left the area of this chaos.

I don’t live in Vancouver, but it’s one of my favorite cities in the world… and I’ve lived in a lot of cities, in several countries. And even in this playoff run, I had a wonderful experience with those Vancouver crowds last Friday. It was a great energy around those city streets. And I don’t think the good behavior before was because of the wins…

I think it was because it wasn’t yet game 7.

Game 7’s 1994 riots are a dark part of Vancouver’s history, but to a whole generation of people who aren’t old enough to remember them, they’re also part of the city’s mythology all these years later. For those rioters, I don’t think the loss of the Stanley Cup really had much to do with their actions—in fact, I expect the same people who went nuts last night would have been just as nuts if the Canucks had won the game. They were just looking for their excuse to make history, and didn’t mind at all that it was at the expense of others.

Idiots are idiots, regardless of hockey scores. Some people will always want their moment of fame, no matter what the cost.  For that, I’m embarrassed for Vancouver.

But for her citizens on the street today… they are the city I know and love. And they are the reason for Vancouver to feel proud again.

It’ll just take a while till the smoke clears.
___________________________

Mark Robinson photo. Bakers handing out cookies to volunteers:

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Stephanie Ip photo.  The wall at The Bay, covered in supportive messages:

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Filed in: | Canucks and Beyond | Permalink
  Tags: cleanup, vancouver+riots

Comments

Evilpens's avatar

It’s always the Morons who ruin it for the Masses !

Posted by Evilpens on 06/16/11 at 04:33 PM ET

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One person who tried to be an aid was Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who went out in his gear to attempt to protect people from injury by deflecting projectiles as they approached.

Sadly, he was unable to actually make any contact whatsoever with any of the bottles or rocks that were thrown in his general vicinity.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/16/11 at 04:48 PM ET

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fan 1: what do we do if we lose?

fan 2: we riot!

fan 1: and what do we do if we win?

fan 2: ... we riot!

I don’t know if it is because of the history or what, but I think you are right Alanah, no matter what there was going to be destruction last night. Its not like anyone was really that angry, as they smiled and laughed and smashed things and cheered… I don’t hang this on Vancouver either, it could happen anywhere. I was very relieved it did not happen in Chicago last year.

Hopefully this situation will help point out the good people and weed out and punish a lot of the bad. Its amazing people still think they can get away with stuff with modern technology…

Posted by pstumba on 06/16/11 at 05:22 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Round up the idiots and make them clean up and rebuild the city.  One meal a day and 10 hours a day worth of labor until the city is back on its feet.

Seriously.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 06/16/11 at 05:28 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I honestly wonder how many of the people who came to clean up were at least on the outside of the mayhem among the crowds last night.

Being protected by a mob of angry and energetic people will do strange things to people.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them woke up the next morning with the proper amount of shame and went out to help make up for it as best they could.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/16/11 at 05:30 PM ET

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“But for her citizens on the street today… they are the city I know and love. And they are the reason for Vancouver to feel proud again. ”

Well said Alanah. The scenes made me sick and ashamed.
The people of Vancouver are some of the best in the world. Great to see them rally round for their city, Id expect nothing less.
my thoughts are with everyone in the city!

Steve

Posted by steve-uk from Scotland on 06/16/11 at 05:39 PM ET

eternal_fields's avatar

A noble response, no doubt. An admirable efffort.

But this is like the . . . uh . . . exclamation mark following Vancouver’s implosion.

Where were cooler heads? Where were the voices of reason?

I’m wondering, also, if this has caused you to re-evaluate the article written earlier in the week about the loss of civility vis a vis some poor behavior in Boston.

Every city has its share of knuckleheads. That they were able to run wild in Vancouver - and that the city was not better prepared - reflects poorly on the city.

Posted by eternal_fields on 06/16/11 at 05:45 PM ET

Alanah McGinley's avatar

Thanks to everyone for the comments.  A terrible way to end the playoffs, but hopefully people are moved to see some positives come out of such an awful aftermath.


eternal fields -
I assume you’re referring to my June 8th post on the Death of Civility in hockey talk? If so, I wasn’t at all referencing any reports of poor behaviour in Boston in that piece—and I did try to ensure that my words weren’t construed that way, though it sounds like I failed somewhat. My point then was simply that the online language of hockey fans about this series—from all directions—seemed unreasonably hostile and mean-spirited, with people’s attacks getting very personal with each other. (Ironically, Vancouver and Boston fans didn’t factor much into my impressions at all… it seemed broader than that.)

What happened in Vancouver last night—a riot—is a whole other issue, and I’ll leave that analysis to the sociologists of the world. I’m sure they’ll have far smarter things to say about that than I can.

As for, “where were the cooler heads?” I’ve seen video of people trying to stop those who were rioting, stop people from destroying property.  While noble, that was a very dangerous choice, and I’m not surprised they had no luck.  Bullies, who carry weapons and are willing to destroy property and hurt other people for no reason, aren’t the types you can communicate rationally with in a situation like that.

Posted by Alanah McGinley from British Columbia on 06/16/11 at 06:07 PM ET

eternal_fields's avatar

As for, “where were the cooler heads?” I’ve seen video of people trying to stop those who were rioting, stop people from destroying property.  While noble, that was a very dangerous choice, and I’m not surprised they had no luck.  Bullies, who carry weapons and are willing to destroy property and hurt other people for no reason, aren’t the types you can communicate rationally with in a situation like that.

Fair enough, I suppose. But if it was a minority acting in such a irresponsible and dangerous way, it just seems like the majority could do something about it. That calls into the question the overall mood of that crowd.

Furthermore, given your city’s unfortunate history with this type of behavior, why wasn’t there a greater “security” presence mobilized in anticipation of this very thing happening? I don’t expect you to have these answers, but these might be some of the questions the more rational residents are asking of elected officials today. (And I do use security in air quotes given my own city’s rather lamentable police actions in the ‘60s.)

How did the city of Vancouver get caught with their pants down on this one?

I also find the “it would have happened either way” logic rather lacking as last summer in Chicago was like a two-week party with the Cup. It was one of the coolest periods to live in the city that I can recall and there was nothing negative . . . unless you were trying to get into one of the clubs where the Hawks were partying.

Posted by eternal_fields on 06/16/11 at 06:22 PM ET

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“Mosly young thugs”  theres a news flash.  I thought they were cranky senior citizens.  No matter how you spin this my dear it doesn’t reflect well on the city of Vancouver.  They have practice too, they did the same stuff in ‘94.  It’s a good thing they don’t win too often or there would be nothing left of Vancouver.

Posted by 13 user names on 06/16/11 at 06:57 PM ET

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It’s something of a revelation to see the speed with which people are writing off Vancouver’s riots as the function of young punks, yet when things like that happen in other cities (like, say, Detroit) that violence is evidence of blight, devastation, and a crappy city.

The moral of the story is, as always, that there are violent idiots looking for a reason to be violent idiots in any city of any size or relevance, and drawing conclusions from that universality is silly.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/16/11 at 08:14 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

The moral of the story is, as always, that there are violent idiots looking for a reason to be violent idiots in any city of any size or relevance, and drawing conclusions from that universality is silly.

Well ,it’s okay to draw those conclusions as long as it helps you find a platform in which to bash the U.S. in some way.

When it happens in Canada, we are asked to understand it was but a few, and the fact some people helped clean up the next day shows that (insert name of Canadian city) is still a magnificent place, so let’s move on.

Love the double-standard (and no, Alanah, I’m not talking about you, but rather the head-scratching news reports on TV and on the Internet).

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 06/16/11 at 08:38 PM ET

Alanah McGinley's avatar

It’s something of a revelation to see the speed with which people are writing off Vancouver’s riots as the function of young punks, yet when things like that happen in other cities (like, say, Detroit) that violence is evidence of blight, devastation, and a crappy city.

I can see what you mean. And in Detroit’s case, I imagine race has historically played a part in that reactive condemnation of the city, the most recent such events happening at a time when people were (even more than they are today) quick to blame non-whites and poor people in general,  when things like this happen.

In the case of Vancouver, I don’t know that anyone is writing things off, but I know what you’re saying though. The story is temporarily changed, as our instant-news-world weighs in on the next chapter, showing people cleaning the city.

But I suspect that the long-term reputation of the city is still yet to be decided. And if I was to guess, I’d say it won’t be decided favourably for a long time.

Posted by Alanah McGinley from British Columbia on 06/16/11 at 09:03 PM ET

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Testosterone and alcohol are often a very dangerous mix.  The vast majority of one hundred thousand people did the right thing last night but a few idiots were…well…idiots.  There were a few instigators, thugs that came to the party equipped with masks and weapons and gasoline to start the fires.  They weren’t Canucks fans, they were there to cause problems and they certainly did and then mob mentality took over.

As to why security didn’t anticipate these problems, they did.  There were contingency plans in place to bring out the riot police if necessary.  Unfortunately, it was, and in the big picture they had the streets cleared and the situation under control within about three hours.  What a lot of people who aren’t from the area maybe don’t realize is that for several weeks, over the last couple of playoff series, upwards of a hundred thousand people had been congregating downtown to watch the games and celebrate the Canucks.  The crowds had behaved well and police had handled any minor problems capably so it wasn’t unrealistic to think that the same thing would occur last night.

The riots were undoubtedly a blight upon the city and its reputation but it’s also not fair to make judgements about Vancouver and its residents based on a few hooligans.  It’s a beautiful city, rated near the top of all cities worldwide on just about any survey that’s done and any number of different criteria.  The real Vancouver is, as Alanah said, the good people that came out today to right some of the wrongs that were done.

Posted by sharon on 06/17/11 at 05:10 AM ET

Alanah McGinley's avatar

Note: Last comment was deleted because:

1.  Being offensive and calling people childish and obnoxious names isn’t cool for all the rest of my visitors who debate things respectfully around here.

2.  The commenter in question has also been posting the same type of obnoxious comments under multiple different aliases, pretending to be different people on different posts.

I virtually NEVER delete comments, no matter how bitchy, but after about a dozen comments demonstrating the same type of idiocy, even I can reach my limit.

As always, my thanks to the rest of you for your comments on my posts. I always welcome debate and disagreement,  I just don’t like freakshows showing up and wrecking the atmosphere. smile

Posted by Alanah McGinley from British Columbia on 06/17/11 at 03:53 PM ET

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About Canucks and Beyond

Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.

In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.

So that's me. Who the hell are you? smile

Email: am@kuklaskorner.com

Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]