Canucks and Beyond

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

06/16/2011 at 5:31pm EDT

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.
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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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