Prevous Editorial-80 July 2011
Edition 80-July 1, 2011
Vancouver's Olympic glow stained by thugs
Rioters should pay monetary compensation with community service
By Thomas Terrio

Weeks have passed since the pathetic events of June 15, better known as Vancouver’s Stanley Cup Riot of 2011. Since then, average citizens, politicians, and journalists, have said much in the media. Some rioters have apologized for their despicable sub-human behavior and turned themselves into police. Others remain in hiding, fearful of the angry masses who want justice—seen to be done—with such worthless individuals; ignorant people who stomped-on and left in ruins the City of Vancouver’s golden reputation; a reputation built with relentless hard work at the cost of several billion dollars in hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

It’s not surprising the Vancouver Canucks franchise has had little to say since riot night, it’s wise to distance themselves from such a calamitous event. The needless destruction of private property such as the burning of cars, the looting of stores, the smashing of windows, and violent attacks on individuals trying to stop rioters from damaging more property, was a despicable display of public behavior. And all this because the Vancouver Canucks Hockey Club lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins, who by the way, were the better team by far. How feeble minded we have become. Idiots like these would have rioted, win or lose.

As adults, we are partly responsible for the actions of our children. I’m curious to know how many parents knew their sons or daughters were heading downtown that evening? And if so, did these parents take the time to warn their children, with hindsight from the 1994 hockey riot behind them, advising them on what to do if things turn bad by saying: I want you out of there right away, come home?

image of riot in vancouver, bc, canada

In the media, some journalists have spoken-out with common sense sternness and disgust, such as CBC’s Rex Murphy, who rightly describes the perpetrators as “Those clotpoles and near-do-wells, vandals, punks and thugs and assorted clueless dotes, who smacked people around, piled on others; Fought with and sought to injure police, set fire to cars, broke into stores, trashed and looted at will in Vancouver…are all a pathetic pack of cowardly destructive losers.” Murphy goes on to say how “These vulgarians defecated on the reputation of one of Canada’s first cities.”

Alex Strachan from Postmedia News added in the Vancouver Sun, “We hosted the Olympics, remember, without any trouble. Why did this happen now? Suffice it to say that the Olympics was about Canada, and the Canucks' Stanley Cup run was about Vancouver. Big difference. Also, the hockey team—the men and the women—won at the Olympics. The Canucks lost... This riot was a largely white, middle-class, predominantly male affair. This wasn't about personal rights and freedoms at Cairo's Tahrir Square, or nine-year-old girls huddling in terror in makeshift camps on the Syria-Turkey border. This was, ‘I want a free iPod.’”

In my view, the most disturbing comments in the media came from CKNW’s Philip Till, who in his radio opinion segment makes light of the events and at times appears to be condoning the riotous behavior as a rightful passage of youth. In his commentary Till says, “‘What a great riot that was.’ Those were the breathless and gigglesom words I heard coming from the mouth of a teenage girl. It was 5 O’clock in the morning and I was surveying the busted windowpanes on Georgia and Granville. The over-excited girl was wearing a Canucks jersey and hyperventilating into her cell phone in the middle of the street. She had obviously had the time of her life at Vancouver Riot 2011. She was about eighteen, mom and dad nowhere in sight; their little princess was the belle of the smashed Hudson’s Bay windows. What a great riot it was.”

Furthermore, Till has the audacity to compare a hockey game to the rebellious 1960’s when the issue of civil rights dominated the news. How crass in comparison. Yes, “What a great riot it was.” Tell it to the people who were beaten unconscious by roving gangs for trying to protect someone else’s property. Tell it to the business owners who were looted and now must deal with the legal system in order to be compensated for the broken windows and stolen goods. Tell it to the person who had their car torched, who now must deal with ICBC to recover their loss.

In my view, it was a disgraceful misrepresentation of everything we expect from or hope for in our younger generations. Indeed, many complain the police should have used a more heavy-handed approach. I disagree; more blood in the streets is not the answer, specifically when so many innocents were stranded in the downtown corridor without enough avenues for escape. Social media perpetuated the situation, because messages were sent on Twitter and Facebook identifying the location of most disturbances, which meant perpetrators bent on following the roving gangs instantly had knowledge of their whereabouts.

I find it hard to lay blame for the riot on Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vancouver Chief of Police Jim Chu, or any other organizer for what happened that night. The only thing they are guilty of was attempting to keep the positive momentum of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games alive for all to enjoy. In my mind, the blame lies strictly with the losers and hooligans who began to take it upon themselves the task of fighting, looting, and arson. No matter what preventive measures are put in place, with a crowd of over 100,000 people, if less than one percent decide to cause a riot, then a riot you will have.

What should be done? To begin with, alcohol should not be sold anywhere in Metro Vancouver on the day of such an event. If convicted, punishment should be swift and harsh with judgments that include financial penalties to cover the costs equal to the crime. Punishment should include: community service in a pink jumpsuit, sweeping up the Downtown Eastside, garbage removal and window washing. Obviously, anger management courses should be mandatory.

This is only the beginning. I’m sure a few judges, with respect to the court, would find many more creative ways to shame these mindless morons. If such occasions draw the presence of “vandals, punks and thugs,” then I would prefer no such organized events take place here in Downtown Vancouver again. As for the Vancouver Canucks Hockey Club and their quest for the Stanley Cup, I do not follow the Vancouver Canucks Hockey Club any longer, and furthermore, I don’t want the Stanley Cup here anymore. Stanley Park is good enough for me.

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