The riot after last night’s Canucks came was predictable. All of the frenetic energy of the last several weeks of hockey playoffs had to go somewhere. You cannot combine over $100,000 people, many who had been drinking, with all that energy and not expect something bad could happen. There is something about Vancouver that is different from most other cities; Vancouver embraces its west coast anti-authoritarian attitude proudly. This evident in many ways and I think it has its roots in the ‘hippie’ culture that developed in Vancouver. From Wrecked beach to not buying dog licenses, many Vancouverites do not think they need to acquiesce to authority.
Vancouver has a history of rioting over losses at hockey games. To blame the beginning of these riots on anarchists is completely wrong. While they may have played a role, it was apparent that the largest group was young, white males. I saw one picture of a white male setting a police car on fire by putting cloth in the gas tank and lighting it on fire. As the live coverage continued yesterday evening, there were only a few people in masks. As the riot escalated into breaking windows of stores and then going in and looting, again the main participants were white, young men.
One thing I noticed about this Stanley Cup run was the over the top in hype. The fan zones set up downtown all of the publicity on radio plus the sports bars all helped to fuel the riot. Clearly someone was asleep at the switch in the mayor’s office. Given that there is a history of rioting over hockey games in Vancouver. It certainly occurred to me that this was a seriously bad idea.
The VPD claimed they had a plan. However, it was apparent that they did not. They are claiming the riot quickly got out of control. I was watching the live coverage shortly after the riot started and 2.5 hours later the reinforcements from other municipalities were just arriving. It seems strange to me that the VPD didn’t ring the alarm bells at the end of the second period when it was apparent that the Canucks were not going to win. Why did it take so long for reinforcements to arrive
The province played a role here too. Citing the increased policing costs of the Stanley Cup run and pointing out that a high number of the fans downtown for every game were not from Vancouver, they had asked the province for additional funds to pay for policing. Christy Clark was very quick to state that policing is a municipal responsibility and they would not get involved. Maybe it is time to revisit the idea of one police for Metro Vancouver rather than the mixture of RCMP detachments and municipal forces
Social media also played a role in this riot. The allure of getting one’s picture up on Facebook posing in front of a burning car was just too much to resist for these idiots. The fact that so many of them did nothing to hide their faces while committing crimes is bizarre. Social media though can be a double-edged sword. While it may have fuelled the riot in the beginning stages, all those pictures and videos will assist police in identifying and prosecuting the hooligans.
I am sure a report will be commissioned to look at all of the factors that contributed to the riot. Most likely, the VPD will do nothing with it. A report was done for the 1994 riot and most of the recommendations were not adopted. Now that there has been a second riot over hockey, I hope they will do things to make it safer for everyone.