It is time for the citizens of Vancouver and the fans of the Vancouver Canucks to step up to a mirror. Raise your right hand (left hand if you are left-handed) to your shoulder. Now give yourself a really good slap! Now that you are conscious let’s talk about the ridiculous response by your politicians and police force regarding the civil unrest known as the 2011 Canucks Riot. Take another look in the mirror and ask who is really to blame. BC is Canada’s left coast, pretty laid-back, easy-going and now, known as the riot capital of Canada?
I wouldn’t call myself an activist. Nor do I proclaim to be the smartest card in the deck. But you have to be as dumb as a hockey puck and emotionally distant as a vandalized store front mannequin to tolerate the ineptitude and blame washing coming out of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As citizens you should be infuriated. The civic politicians and police force are there to protect you from the anarchy of the streets you call home. But when it is demonstrated they cannot provide that protection nor are willing to step up to the responsibility for their own failures be afraid. Be Very Afraid. I would be terrified to live in the powder keg of Vancouver, protected by such an incompetent civic leadership and police force. I am not talking about the rank and file officers here. I saw them on the line in riot gear. I respect this profession immensely. There was no leadership here. No commands to action, rather the commands were to inaction. If I am being assaulted I want action. If my city is being assaulted I want action. Failed action is better than complacent failure. I have never heard so much, “it wasn’t our fault”.
I don’t even blame the politicians as much as I do the police leadership. This was not all about ill conception or inept planning. This is also about decision-making in the heat of a riot. And a decision of inaction is not a decision to action. The police were too slow to intervene. The police officials had plenty of time to act and react. There were many action and reaction points prior to the day of the game, but certainly after over 100,000 people showed up before the game police could have scrapped the ‘meet and greet’ strategy. Go to Plan B (did they have a Plan B?) Every available officer in BC should have been called onto crowd control sooner. The game lasted 3 hours, time enough to redeploy. At 14:37 of the First period the situation had worsened, still 2 ½ hours to react. The second goal at 12:13 of the Second period left 1 ½ hours to make decisions. The final critical time came at 17:35 of the Second period leaving well over 1 hour before total mayhem. If I call 911 I want better response time than 1 hour. Were these civic and police officials not watching the game? At this point it was Game over.
What really makes no sense to me is the prideful quote from police chief, Chief Jim Chu. Following the riot Chief Chu on more than one occasion has proudly stated that compared to the 1994 riot, although the damage was relatively the same, it took “half the time to quell the riot”. Proudly? Thanks to some data from the CBC and the Globe and Mail let’s compare before commenting on Chief Chu ridiculous and misplaced pride logic.
Data 2011 1994
|Estimated cost||$1.3 million||$1.1 million|
|Crowd / Rioters||100,000 people||70,000 people|
|Police Presence||446 to 928 officers||540 officers|
|Injured||140 people||200 people|
|Arrests||100 idiots||150 idiots|
|Most Severe Incident||4 stabbings||1 hit by rubber bullet|
|Length of Riot||3 hours||6 hours|
thanks to CBC and the Globe and Mail
True, the estimated property damage cost was approximately the same and the 2011 riot was considered under control in 3 hours compared to the 1994 period of rioting of 6 hours. Chief Chu, do the math. How can you be proud of this? What you are saying is: we as a police force were so incompetent in our response to this situation that we allowed the same amount of damage to happen in 3 hours that took 6 hours to commit in the past. This to me says the 2011 riot was allowed to be twice as intense as the 1994 riot. How can you be Proud of this level of failure? If and only if you were able to say the damage was less than half, that is, less than $500,000 you would have an argument of which to be proud. Here is my premise: A riot in downtown Vancouver will cause approximately $1.2 million dollars in damage (my assumption is that in 1994 after 6 hours everything worth destroying or looting was). After 6 hours of looting and destroying, as an anarchist, I have had enough. I am tired. I have sobered up. I am going home. Anarchists don’t work 8 hour days. The pride factor here goes to the anarchists. They were able to accomplish the same level of destruction and looting in half the time with fewer arrests. They, as anarchists, were able to entice 30,000 more people to participate this time than in 1994. Further to their anarchistic pride it took almost twice the number of police officers to quell the riot. They were able to intensify the severity of injury (4 stabbings) while reducing the overall injuries to participants. Chief Chu Step Up to the Mirror! Open your eyes. Is that the face of Pride? If you do not think so, it is time to resign. If you think it is, it is time you were fired.
I don’t even want to get into the lack of justice so far because it is so frustrating. The ‘better to do it right than do it in a hurry’ mantra coming from police. They still don’t get it. The people want action. Action on the night of the riot and action in the courts now. One individual, caught on tape, was seen by the world in real-time lighting a police car on fire. He has turned himself in. What are you waiting for? What further evidence do you need? What other charges could be more damning. He torched a police car! Put him in prison! Make him pay for the
damages! Make him Step Up to the Mirror!
But what has inspired me to write this piece is the contempt, the audacity of Civic officials and police in blaming this incident on the NHL and the Vancouver Canucks team. In the interests of full disclosure let me say I am from eastern Canada and I am a Boston Bruins fan. So I have no self-interest in defending the Canucks. Civic officials originally blamed this incident on a small number (maybe 100 anarchists) intent on rioting from the beginning, win or lose. So don’t try now to blame the NHL and the Canucks’ organization and by association the true fans of the Canucks. Is it a coincidence that 100 rioters were arrested? Does that mean you got all the anarchists? Mayor Greg Robertson was quoted as saying,” rioters came with a plan”. Obviously a better plan than the police and civic officials. I am sure these civic and police officials by nature of being civic organizations had more opportunities to meet and plan for all eventualities for this misconceived event supported by the City and the CBC. More planning meetings I am sure than the alleged anarchists. By definition anarchists don’t organize, meet or plan. Anarchy only succeeds when there is no structure and authority to oppose it. It wasn’t even the first time they had a riot after a hockey game gone bad. The previous time was the 1994 final loss to New York. A strange coincident that recently the civic officials of New York were criticized for over-planning for the worst from Hurricane Irene. Good for them. Better to take criticism for over protecting your citizens. Mr. Mayor Step Up to the Mirror! Next election Vancouver you need to elect a new mayor if he refuses to do the right thing and resign now. Perhaps a public demonstration would be appropriate to express your displeasure, but remember you will have to police yourselves, so keep it peaceful.