Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mob Violence in Vancouver

Vancouver has had two runs at hockey's Stanley Cup finals. Both times crowds have rioted in the downtown area with looting and violence. (See Vancouver Sun story here.)

It is sad to see that such insanity, stupidity, and mindless violence can so easily break out and paralyze a large urban centre.

Hopefully with the new social media there will be enough pictures and videos of the crazies that the police will have ample evidence to arrest and jail several hundred crazies.
You can help apprehend the crazies by following the links in this post by Vancouver Sun's blogger Kim Bolan. She includes in information sheet from the VPD giving instructions on how to forward photos and videos to them.
What I don't understand is why the crowd, when it was clear that violence had broken out, didn't immediately exit the area. If the tens of thousands of decent citizens has immediately left, the few hundred crazies would have been easily identified, cornered, and arrested. But, sadly, many otherwise "normal" citizens continued to mill around downtown "witnessing" the violence and hindering the police in collaring the criminals. In my mind, if you are normal, you would immediately walk away, miles away, from such street violence. But it didn't happen.

I'm encouraged to see that today the decent citizens are making their voice heard after a night on insanity. There are plywood sheets along many main streets of downtown and people are signing these to make their unhappiness with the crazies known. That is positive. People are sending thank you notes to the police and fire services and sending them flowers to show their gratitude for work well done in the face of mobs. This is all very positive.

I guess it is left to civic leaders, the mayor of Vancouver and the premier of BC, to lay down the law and ban large outdoor gatherings unless organizers can front several million dollars as a "security" to ensure proper security is in place. That means no more "street parties" for events like hockey games unless a sponsor will step forward willing to pay enough to ensure a peaceful assembly.

I generally dislike heavy-handed police and "big brother" government, but when you have a significant segment of your population determined to cause violence and a willingness of the larger population to "shield" them by not stepping in to stop the petty violence that leads to mob violence, then I see no other option than to put in place restrictions on future events to ensure that a repeat -- especially a third Stanley Cup riot -- of this disgraceful violence occurs.

Update: I just saw an interview with Vancouver's mayor where he claimed that "the riot could not be foreseen". What? And the police chief said that "maybe" the police had not prepared by having enough officers on duty. What these statements demonstrate is that leadership failed. The guys at the top showed they don't have the ability to plan and prepare. I'm unhappy because you won't get a better future if your leaders refuse to accept any responsibility. I'm disappointed. Of course the thugs on the street were the immediate cause. But having leadership that failed to see that a large public gathering could explode if fans were disappointed is a contributory factor.

It isn't as if these were an "out of the blue" event. The previous run for the Stanley Cup produced a similar riot when Vancouver failed to win. And it isn't just Vancouver. This kind of violence and vandalism has become endemic over the last 20-30 years.

Another problem I have with the mayor is that 24 hours later he is claiming that the problem is "a small number of people". That is preposterous. The ones who bashed & burned maybe numbers 200 or 300. But there were literally thousands who stood around and cheered and effectively blocked police from dealing with the vandals. That isn't "a small number of people".

I sure hope the authorities don't follow the mayor's lead and downplay everything because they are worried about "image" and the selling of Vancouver as a destination. That is a surefire way to ensure the problem festers and grows. We need police & a judiciary who vigorously prosecute the law to its fullest extent to both punish those responsible and recover some of the millions of lost dollars in damage.

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