June 19, 2011

Vancouver Riots 2011

They were the best hockey team throughout the season by a large margin. They never trailed a series in the playoffs, and leading 2-0 in this one. Yet, the Vancouver Canucks lost in the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Final. Soon after the lovable losers failed to secure Lord Stanley's Cup for the 41st consecutive year, the rioting began. The crowds that had gathered on the streets to watch the game became unruly.

Although no stranger to danger, I was not involved in this particular riot. The mob consisted primarily of young white males. They set cars on fire, hurled insults and garbage at police officers, engaged in fisticuffs, and looted stores. The police methodically cleared out the streets of rioters as quickly as they could. As darkness fell in a city, it was clear that it had lost a lot more than a championship.

The world's most livable city showed its better side the next morning. Hundreds of volunteers helped to clear the streets of the debris left behind from the mayhem of the night before. Outside the Bay's flagship store, which had been pillaged by the Vancouverioters, an "Apology Wall" came into being. The shattered windows of the storefront had been boarded up with plywood, and Vancouverites had started writing messages on the wooden planks. The notes stated how sorry the people were for the behaviour of the rioters and expressed dismay and anger at the ugly turn of events in the Olympic city.


Gone the city, gone the day,
Yet still the story and the meaning stay:
Once where a prophet in the palm shade based,
A traveler chanced at noon to rest his mules.
“What sort of people may they be,” he asked,
“in this proud city on the plains o’erspread?”
“Well, friend, what sort of people whence you came?”
“What sort?” the packman scowled; “why, knaves and fools!”
“You’ll find the people here the same,” the wise man said.
Another stranger in the dusk drew near,
And pausing, cried, “What sort of people here
in your bright city where yon towers arise?”
“Well, friend, what sort of people whence you came?”
“What sort?” the pilgrim smiled, “Good, true, and wise.”
“You’ll find the people here the same,” the wise man said.
-— from Edwin Markham's "The Right Kind of People"