After the Canucks’ 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins, most Vancouverites went home to drown their sorrows — but some stayed behind and unleashed violence the city hasn’t seen since, well, since the Canucks’ last Stanley Cup Game 7 loss in 1994. As soon as the final whistle blew, fights broke out and cars were flipped and torched. Beatings, stabbings, violence, looting and multiple fires led the Vancouver police to unleash tear gas on the crowds within two hours. More than 140 people ended up in the hospital, with at least one in critical condition. Mass transit stopped running in the downtown core and people in other venues such as a local theatre were prevented from exiting into the melee.
The rest of Vancouver is decrying the violence, protesting that this isn’t what Vancouver is about. The Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, called the riots “disgraceful and shameful” and said the “hooligans” behind the violence “by no means represent the City of Vancouver.” NBA star Steve Nash, a Vancouver native and brother-in-law to Canucks player Manny Malhotra, tweeted urging people to “stop burning sh*t.”
The peaceful citizens of the city — who by far outnumber the hooligans — are speaking out and taking action against the violence. During the riots, individuals stood up against the rioters, even at risk to their own safety. A popular Vancouver blogger, Miss604, is this morning publicizing efforts to bring the rioters to justice.
Within hours of the riots breaking out, Facebook and Tumblr pages were started for people to upload photos and footage of the rioters to provide the Vancouver police with evidence to facilitate arrests. Another Facebook group and a Twitter account at @VancouverClean are asking for volunteers to help clean up the downtown, with 12,000 volunteers already signed up and having the green light to head in with garbage bags and a “positive attitude” — and requests to tweet photos of the cleanup, to hopefully fill people’s minds with good images of Vancouver rather than bad.
Ultimately, the smears on the city’s reputation following the riots may last for years — but it’s good to see there are still many people who will stand up and say: not in my neighborhood.
Photo credit: Matthew Grapengeiser on Flickr