Up until the first plumes of smoke were visible on my city’s downtown skyline, I was vocal and insistent believing that this riot wouldn’t happen. Even with this, I did make a conscious decision to not be in Downtown, Vancouver during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I made this decision due to the fact that I know how bad Granville Street can be on a normal weekend evening, and I wanted nothing to do with 100,000+ drunk people. I do not get a rush out of people acting like idiots.
One of the huge differences between this riot and that of 1994, is that, because of social media, this riot has a face. The Face of the Vancouver Riot of 2011 spans across generations, ethnicities, incomes, upbringings and attitudes. I cannot comprehend why so many different kinds of people could be so weak in judgement in the heat of the moment. Transport yourself, for one moment, into the middle of a war zone. Smoke, flames, overturned vehicles, broken windows, glass everywhere, blood, violence, tear gas, police in full force…how could you laugh? how could this excite you? how could you decide to participate? How could you think “I want a souvenir?” This is YOUR city!
I look at the faces of the people whose lives have been turned upside down by being identified as the Face of the Riot because of their actions, and, while I don’t doubt their remorse, they have not been able to identify why mob mentality took control of their ability to make a better decision, rather they’ve simply used mob mentality as one of their excuses. I can understand getting caught up in a positive moment (I won’t deny that I bandwagon jumped onto Canucks Fever), but getting caught up in the destruction of a place you call home? Thinking it’s fun when cars are burning around you? Something is wrong with you!
I know that people come into Downtown Vancouver with the intention of ‘letting loose’ via getting as drunk as possible. A lot of people will blame their actions on alcohol and drugs.
To the Faces of the Riot:
Please look at yourself in the mirror instead. Look at your ability to make responsible decisions and do not do things that impede your ability. Acknowledge that this might even mean you have substance abuse problems and take action to get help. Surround yourself with people who will help you make smart and safe decisions instead of people who let you steal, vandalize and otherwise make an ass of yourself. If you are the kind of person who cannot walk away from rage, from hate, from madness, something is wrong with you.
Today, you are the Face of the Vancouver Riot of 2011. I have hope for your future. But you have to change how you see the world and how you see yourself as a member of this society. You have a responsibility to do what’s right. You have to change to make sure that you can be in the same situation and that your core being (that’s right, your automatic response) propels you to safety and sanity and consideration of others.