Vancouver Riot 2011

As many of you may have heard on the news almost two weeks ago, following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in Vancouver, BC, Canada, rioters overtook the city and took it upon themselves to smash, loot and burn to their heart’s desires in the downtown core.

I, along with thousands of others, watched Game 7 on big outdoor screens at Georgia and Hamilton St downtown, and decided to leave seven minutes before the game officially ended (when the Canucks were down by several goals to the Boston Bruins). I was definitely upset with the outcome of the game, and a little wary of being in a fenced-off game-viewing area downtown crowded in with so many people.

Although I did expect that some disheartened fans would take to the streets in anger, mostly in the form of fist fights and empty threats, I didn’t expect the rest of my night to become what it did. During the next two hours, I ran (which seemed like for my life) away from screaming mobs and crowds of fights, through tear gas, past cars and buildings on fire, witnessing destruction in the forms of smashed building windows, looting, explosions, and some of the ugliest, scariest behaviour I have ever seen from people.

Luckily, I safely got home (before midnight, even!) unharmed, with just the disbelief of what had happened. My city, which I love so dearly, was ugly for the first time in my eyes. Living in Canada for most of my life, I have never experienced a riot, or such volumes of angry, nasty actions. It was embarrassing. People all over the world take to the streets in riots for womens’ rights, for democracy, the right to education, for FREEDOM, and what happens in Vancouver? Our government buys us some big screen TVs, throws us an awesome party, and we destroy the city.

But, there was a silver lining. Unsurprisingly, most of the rioters were not Canucks fans; they were semi-anarchists, determined (no matter the outcome of the game) to have a little bit of their idea of fun, and sent fire to police cars, or loot stores, or fight police officers. Firefighters that were set to battle the first car set on fire, in a crowd of hundreds of people, were attacked by the bystanders and were ordered by the police to leave, for their own safety. (Just pause for a moment here. Who throws things at/attacks FIREFIGHTERS? I didn’t even know people with that mentality exist).

Back to the silver lining. Before midnight on June 15th (the night of the riot) a Facebook event had been created, with already over 100,000 attendees. The event called for the “true Canucks fans” and lovers of Vancouver to take to the streets the next morning and clean the city up. Before noon the next day, downtown was spotless. The boarded up windows of businesses that had been smashed were now covered with messages from those who helped clean up, those who were shocked and appalled by the attitude of those the night before.

Photos and videos taken of the riot are still being examined by the police, and many have already been convicted of the crimes they committed.

I’m not proud of my city for what happened that night, but I am proud of my city for what happened after; for the people who took it upon themselves to go out of their way and help. The people who know the real Vancouver and love it enough to protect it. 

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