The reports are coming in and still no one is really taking responsibility for the riot. Not the people who authorized and set up the big screen TVs in so-called ‘Fan Zones’ nor the people who should have been monitoring the number of people in downtown. The Mayor, Gregor Robertson, has nothing to say but that isn’t new. He ducks responsibility every chance he gets.[1] Chief Jim Chiu is not saying he had anything to do with it. So that really leaves the average citizen wondering how the hell things could go so wrong and no one took notice. I mean it is not like Game 7 Stanley Cup riots are new to Vancouver. It was apparent probably by the end of the 1st period of that game that things were not going to end well for the Canucks and their legions of fans; many of who were already on the ground in downtown Vancouver and inebriated. The only things everyone can agree on so far are that there was too much alcohol and Translink did a really good job of bringing people downtown.

So for free, Dispatches from the Swamp, will provide a report on how not to plan a riot. So here we go:

  1. Know whom you are inviting into the city – Canucks fans are mostly straight, white men between 15-50 years old.[2] Of those fans, a subset of younger fans, particularly in the 18-30 year range who will show up for a party at a fan zone. Anybody with half a brain cell knows that when you add alcohol and disappointment to this group of people and the mob mentality takes over you will have trouble. It is not that they set out to riot but they were all ramped up by all the media attention the game was getting. There was so my hype I wanted to hurl on a regular basis.
  2. We know that Vancouver downtown is surrounded by water on most sides. This makes it very difficult for people who want to get out of the city quickly. If 150,000+ people descend on a cramped space it is virtually impossible to move them all out in a reasonable amount of time. If there are ever fan zones set up again, they should be done in a secured area where access can be controlled and people can easily exit. People can be searched for alcohol and denied entry if they are intoxicated.
  3. We all know that people come from all over the lower mainland to celebrate hockey. There must be a coordinated police force made up of officers from all jurisdictions to ensure public safety. Then set up a fan zone in a big field somewhere like a large concert and emphasize security.
  4. Maybe even having an altered fan zone is not really appropriate for a do or die situation like Game 7 of the Stanley cup. Vancouver experienced another riot in the same circumstances. Why anyone thought this would not end badly is beyond me.

My last question is: Where are the Canucks in all of this? Wouldn’t you think that as a professional sports organization they could say something to their fans? I think they have a civic responsibility to encourage their fans to behave more appropriately while they are playing. If the Canucks do not do anything about this riot, I think they should be fined to help offset clean up costs for the city.

The provincial government also bears responsibility. The City of Vancouver asked for some financial help with the Stanley Cup playoffs policing efforts and the province did not assist. This clearly was a regional event rather than just a City of Vancouver event and as such the province should have done something.

Unless the various levels of government, the VPD and the Canucks get their shit together we may well have a ‘threepeat’ next year. Everyone must look at their roles in this completely predictable and avoidable event and ensure it does not happen again.


[1] For example the Pandora fires that killed 3 homeless men just before Christmas is a shining example of Gregor at his finest.

[2] I know I am generalizing and not every fan is a white straight man.

2 thoughts on “How not to plan a riot

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