Six lessons from highly-predictable riot

It’s bizarre that the authorities in Vancouver claim to be surprised by the Stanley Cup riot.

It’s bizarre that the authorities in Vancouver claim to be surprised by the Stanley Cup riot.

I was on a 9 a.m. ferry from Victoria to Vancouver that day. Within about 30 minutes, it was clear trouble was likely.

The ferry was crowded with young people, mostly male, wearing Canuck’s sweaters. They weren’t criminals or ‘anarchists’ (which always suggests a bearded, skinny guy with a round bomb).

They were young fans, ready for a day of drinking and a hockey party. Some of the guys led the passengers in ‘Go Canucks go” chants. They had jobs or were in college or university.

One young man in a Luongo jersey told friends he’d been over for Game 5. You had to line up to get into a bar at 2 p.m., he warned them. And you had to keep drinking or you’d lose the table. (Which, he said, was not a problem.)

“Ferry jammed with young people in Canucks’ jerseys,” I tweeted. “Vancouver police should be biggest cheerers for Canuck win.” (Yes, I’m on Twitter.)

I’m no security expert. But it was clear that there would be trouble if the Canucks lost.

My ferry fellow travellers might not set a car on fire or loot a store. But some would watch and cheer, or taunt police, perhaps get in drunken fights if they felt wronged.

People have been drawing an extraordinary range of messages from the riots.

I’d settle for six conclusions.

First, that a proportion of young men are capable of stupid and dangerous behaviour. Destruction and violence please them. The trait must serve some genetic purpose, or it did in the past, but it is a great nuisance today.

It’s not a question of intelligence, upbringing, thwarted opportunity or philosophy. Look at Nathan Kotylak, the 17-year-old caught trying to set a police car on fire. His dad is a surgeon. He’s a water polo star, set to head off on a university scholarship, a potential Olympian. That’s not some loser anarchist wannabe in a hoodie.

Second, that alcohol remains our most destructive drug. The Canucks’ fans on the morning ferry were the usual mix of people, great and not so great, but none of them would do you harm.

Many would help if you needed it.

Unless they were drunk. Then, all bets would be off.

And the crowds watching the final game in Vancouver were drunk. People drinking in the street – tens of thousands – were joined by people pouring into the streets after spending six hours drinking in bars.

It was predictable that any incidents would quickly escalate.

Third, that mobs are dangerous. People who would never loot a store or confront police individually can be swept, sheep-like, into stupid and dangerous activities. (That conclusion applies just as well to those – generally online – who urged vigilante justice against rioters. The herd mentality swept them along as well.)

Fourth, that we need to at least consider whether our culture – the things our society celebrates – is increasing the risk of such violence and disruption. Hockey did not make people set fire to cars.

But it’s not unreasonable to wonder if commentators who celebrated violence and actions outside the game’s rules legitimized similar acts on the streets. Or whether a steady diet of TV that makes stars of the selfish, stupid, rude and violent influences behaviour.

Fifth, that Vancouver blew it. The police presence was inadequate, several smaller public venues – ideally in open areas – would have been safer, and it’s baffling that city staff and police were caught by surprise.

Sixth, that parents should recognize that some of the rioters were people like their own children (or sons, to be more accurate). It’s a good chance to point out the perils of drunken gatherings.

We’re never going to eliminate stupidity and violence.

We can do a lot better than we did this week.

Footnote: Premier Christy Clark ordered a review and promised swift justice and public humiliation for rioters. That led Attorney General Barry Penner to reverse his decision to cut sheriff’s hours, a cost-saving measure that had led to even longer delays and more dismissed charges in the courts.


Just Posted

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

A wildfire near Cottonwood Lake was put out by Nelson firefighters Sunday night. Photo: Submitted
Wildfire extinguished near Cottonwood Lake

Lightning-caused fire was near one of Nelson’s water sources

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read