Thoughts on Vancouver Riot (part I)

Working on a longer essay, but here are some thoughts….

I wish people would stop politicizing what happened in Vancouver last week — or calling it class warfare. A lot of those involved trashing cars looked awfully well dressed and groomed and those $300 Canucks jerseys are not the normal attire of the poor.

It also had nothing to do with what politicians did or did not do.  Unless you think that closing roads and supporting street parties is a bad thing, in which case you could blame all of them since no one spoke out against it.

A group of organized anarchists planned to take advantage of the large crowds to create mayhem. T

In the large crowds were a larger number of young males.  In fact, probably more than over the previous weeks because high school just finished.  It’s “Grad party time.”

Young men are well known for being reasonably pre-disposed to joining in to violent movements.  In much of human history, they have been the soldiers or the warriors.  The people you send into battle.  They can be convinced to follow anyone and do things that they have been raised not to.

Young men have energy, feel immortal, and can be swayed.  That’s why they make great soldiers.

But put thousands of them, full of emotion from 8 weeks of playoff build up, into a crowd.  Add disappointment (or the failure of rising expectations for that cup), and then add a catalyst like cars being trashed and looting starting, and you get what happened in Vancouver.

Hundreds joined in as a way to shed emotional energy.  (Others dealt with disappointment by playing hockey, going for ice cream, or just for a walk or home).

It is a tribute to the city and its citizens–and how so many of the young people were raised–that only a few hundred out of thousands joined in the riot.  Most resisted any temptation to join.

Many more young people, including many young men, showed up instead the next day to help clean up.  To them I say good job. I’m proud to live in the same city as you, and look for more great things from you in the future.


  1. Stacey K says:

    I have tried to avoid much of the “analysis”. I was in the crowd in 1994 about half an hour before it exploded. The energy in the crowd was weird and creepy, so we got out and headed home.

    As I said to my husband, many of the first people who panicked and flooded the Skytrain stations were probably like us, who remember that weird energy of the crowd and knew what it meant.

    Just because two incidents like this have occurred in Vancouver, doesn’t mean that Vancouver is a violent city, or that Vancouverites are incapable of celebrating peacefully. It means only that large crowds are magnets for people who are intent on mayhem, and perhaps that Vancouver may have more fringe groups like anarchists who seem to thrive on this type of violent “protest”.

    I have to say, though, I am smitten with the making-out couple! :-)

  2. Andrea C says:

    People have been talking for years about how there would be another riot. It’s almost a self fulfilling prophecy. Many young people came downtown in hopes that there would be a riot – whether they wanted to take part or just watch it. Friends told me that there were people at 4:30 in the crowd chanting, “Riot, riot!” Another friend and child were on the Skytrain at 5:30 when a group of young men boarded and started chanting about how they were going down there either to party or to riot and “F* the police, man!”

    When I was in high school, there was an end of year scavenger hunt, outside school hours. It resulted in massive destruction of property, including the interior of a McDonald’s, road equipment, store property, gas station signs and so on. It also involved getting an excessive speeding ticket. At the end of the night, the participants burned everything in a bonfire. I was appalled. My friends and I realized that what we were being asked to do was criminal and we returned the few items we’d picked up and bowed out of the rest of the hunt. (We’d taken a price number from a gas station and a road hazard sign and then we stopped and realized this was STEALING and we took everything back. For some reason, the fact that these things were just sitting out on the road and that we needed them for the hunt initially made us think it was okay and we had planned to return everything. But then we felt unsure and took everything back.) We also reported the people who took part, which resulted in us being shamed by some of the key leaders in the school. (Apparently ratting out grad committee members, even at end of June, is going to cost you. I didn’t care. The other people burned everything. In fact, it got so out of hand that, after they’d unscrewed all the seats from the McDonald’s, some people stole the McD’s toilets, since you needed a seat from McD’s to win. They ripped the toilets out and destroyed piping and tile.)

    So you had that element going on. Plus the “fun” of recording yourself at a “real” riot.

    But the semi-professional instigators got it going and opened the door. You had some people, though, who’d planned on this – the guys who brought down a truck to set it on fire. Tipping a port-a-potty like in Jackass. Or jumping from car to car like one of those Youtube videos or other movies.

    And I think a lot of people don’t understand that if someone else already broke the window, smashed the car, set the property on fire and so on, it’s still vanadalism if you add to that. Just like it’s still rape if you join in a gang rape. I think some people just don’t get that not being first does not make it okay. And just because everyone else is doing it does not make it okay. Stealing Pringles from LD is still theft, even if you didn’t do the “breaking” in the break and entry.

    What boggles my mind, though, is that people were doing this while those around them were recording everything. We’re never had this level of surveillance at any point in history. And people still did it. And now they’re being reported, without torture, secret police, imprisonment or even the Gestapo or Red Guard.

    I’d love to see some analysis that goes back and compares all this to the riots at Kelowna Regatta, Penticton whatever, Parksville sandcastle, White Rock sandcastle, Kits Greek Days, Nanaimo Bathtub Festival and whatever that Kits sea festival was called. That was 30 years ago. Who was doing that then? The same middle class kids?

    I also have a theory that this is a suburban thing. The kids who are attached to downtown would be less likely to destroy their own cities, since that’s their library, their coffee shop, their shopping area, etc. They’re more attached, they know people who own/work there. I don’t even mean people who live downtown. I mean people who see Robson and Georgia as part of their lives, not as a tourist destination. You know that saying about how people don’t defecate where they eat? I think it’s unlikely that you’d riot where you live.

    That being said, I don’t think downtown kids would go to the burbs and riot. There isn’t that same level of detachment to a big city, you know?

  3. Wendy Waters says:

    Thanks for the comments. I agree with Stacey in that from talking to people who remember the 1994 Riots, who were there last week, they cleared out quick. Many didn’t stay for the game (they were working downtown and left ASAP, even if they stayed for previous games; it felt too weird).

    Andrea – I agree that so much of this was high school grad pranks gone bad. The car rally “stealing stuff” tradition was exactly what I was thinking of as well–instead of doing that this year, they all came downtown and rioted.

    I have been resisting the “it was suburbanites who rioted in Vancouver” theory. But so far, the only evidence we have — a partial list of those arrested — bears this out. Teenagers and young men from suburban Vancouver and from Calgary (?!) are the only people on the police list of arrests.

    If most rioters turn out to be suburban, it would fit with a lot of other theories about the difference between raising kids in urban settings, where they are exposed to a lot of different people and ideas (and may have to make more mature decisions at an early age), vs a more sheltered suburban life.

    But, it also wouldn’t surprise me if high school grads from Vancouver city itself also got wrapped up in the mayhem.

    Time will tell.

jordan 12 cherry jordan 12 cherry jordan 12 cherry jordan 12 flu game jordan 12 flu game jordan 12 flu game jordan 12 french jordan 12 french jordan 12 french jordan 12 gym jordan 12 gym jordan 12 gym jordan 12 ovo jordan 12 ovo jordan 12 ovo jordan 12 unc jordan 12 unc jordan 12 unc jordan 12 wings jordan 12 wings jordan 12 wings