So I guess you’ve heard. Beautiful Vancouver, host of the 2010 Olympics, home to orca whales, multiculturalism, cheap sushi and polite Canadians, is really filled with bloodthirsty hockey fans eager to self-destruct their surroundings if the score disappoints. Or at least, that’s the impression the riot has left you with.
I’d like to defend Vancouver – best I can – when I say that a majority of the Canucks’ REAL fans were not the ones wreaking havoc in the downtown core Wednesday night. The rioters have been misrepresented around the world as angry and gypped diehard Canuck fans. This representation, fueled by photos of jersey-wearing imbeciles, is vastly incorrect.
Let one thing be known: the riot would have ensued regardless of the game’s outcome. Many of the rioters brought goggles and ski masks to the city center before the game had started. Furthermore, police reports now allege that many of the rioters were also those who participated in the 2010 Olympics anarchist demonstrations. If anything, Wednesday night was the result of premeditated anarchy, not a hockey score.
The people rioting downtown were bored, angry, alcohol-fueled and idiotic. They were hell-bent on causing disruption but they weren’t acting on passionate, furious emotions. They were going through the motions of starting a riot, because, essentially, they simply wanted to riot.
These people’s behavior Wednesday night was despicable. Those who defend the rioters as “true fans” are being willfully ignorant. The true Canuck fans were deflated, crest-fallen, and seeking solace in the comfort of a quiet bar or their homes on Wednesday night. They weren’t flipping over cars, throwing lit trash cans at the police or looting Sears.
The fact that the riot has completely overshadowed the hard work of the Canucks this year is yet another blight on our city that we should all work to amend. The Canucks deserve to be congratulated on their wonderful season, and Vancouverites have let them down just as much as they have “let us down” by denying the city the Stanley Cup. The Bruins outplayed the Canucks in the last games of the playoffs, and arguably, the better team won. The Canucks should not have to be further embarrassed for their city and the destruction triggered by Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final.
Those who acted in defense of the city also deserve congratulations. A recent YouTube video of one brave woman is particularly inspiring. “This is our fucking city,” she yells, “what is WRONG with you people?” I can’t watch the taunting reaction of the rioters without my stomach lurching. To this woman – thank you.
The level of idiocy documented by the riot is paramount. Personal favorite photos include these men striking (lame) poses in front of the fire and some trashy girl flashing the camera in front of a burning vehicle. I hope the parents of those involved find these photos and dole out their own brands of guilt and punishment. My father, upon watching a video of some wasted girl looting moisturizer, sighed and muttered (albeit melodramatically) “I feel embarrassed to be a human-being.”
In light of the role of social media in our society, this embarrassment can be felt stronger than ever – the photos of the riot are spread far and wide. However, there is good to come of this. Some of the culprits can be identified, and opinions on their actions can be easily expressed. An impressive amount of Vancouverites have already uploaded photos into post-riot Facebook groups, designed to collect images of the rioters in hopes that some justice will be served.
One site called “public shaming eternus” has gone semi-viral; this alone speaks to the amount of people determined to amend the wrongs done against their city. The site creator, self-proclaimed “Captain Vancouver”, says it best when he states “Anyone […] commits a sin of omission by not doing the right thing and walking away from the actions perpetuated by others that are not good.”
But I maintain: the people in these photos are not Vancouverites – not in earnest. They do not represent the loyal fans and kind people of this city. A small amount of morons, spineless enough to be seduced by mob mentality and the token prize of a rowdy, rebellious new Facebook profile picture, are now representing the whole city through these images. It is a shame that they have played a part in creating what will surely be remembered as an infamously sad day in Vancouver’s history.
The real Vancouverites emerged Thursday, taking to the streets early in the morning to clean the mess. In this, there is hope. The people who truly cared about the Canucks weren’t those seeking to destroy the team’s beautiful city. The real fans were those writing honest, heartfelt proclamations of regret for the rioters’ actions on the boards covering the destruction. They were the people taking the time to express thanks to the Canucks for their season, and to the police for taking action against those who undermined it. The team played brilliantly for the most part. They helped us unite in the streets, in bars, with our families and friends. On a personal level, they made the move from the East coast back to the West less mind-numbingly dull. During the playoffs, Vancouverites bonded through a silent commonality: we had a team worth cheering in the streets for, and we still do. The real fans will be there, next season, white towels in hand and jerseys on their backs.
Rioters, stay home.