After the riots: Vancouver still has a problem

vancouver skyline

I wasn’t going to post this, as Quirky Travel Guy is not a controversial opinion-based blog. But for the past week, I’ve seen folks defend Vancouver after the despicable riots that took place following a hockey game by saying things like, “That was not truly reflective of the city.”

While that may be true, I just can’t bring myself to forgive and forget that easily. After a week of reflection, I feel it’s important to raise an opposing viewpoint.

I would not be so foolish as to condemn the entire city of Vancouver based on the actions of a few hundred people. But I think it’s equally foolish to simply shrug off the events of last week and say, “This could’ve happened anywhere.”

Doing so would be ignoring the larger problem. Vancouver is starting to build up quite a resumé of inexplicable violence, usually associated with sports. Something must be done.

Everyone knew the riots were coming

To examine the other perspective, let’s start with this:

dejan kovacevic tweet

That’s a tweet from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Dejan Kovacevic, a respected sportswriter who I read regularly.

You know what’s amazing about this tweet? It was delivered last Wednesday afternoon – before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was even played. In fact, he was predicting as early as June 6 that this series would end with police in riot gear.

He (and several other sports journalists on Twitter) knew that hoodlums in Vancouver would wreck the town, win or lose. Why? Because that’s just what they do. They did the same thing back in 1994 after a Stanley Cup Finals loss. They did the same thing in 2002 after Guns N Roses canceled a concert.

On top of that, some sports writers are convinced there would’ve been another riot in 2010 if Canada hadn’t won the gold medal hockey game in overtime (thank you, Sidney Crosby.)

So we’re dealing with a pattern here. When a certain segment of your population has such a horrible reputation that people can predict a riot before it even happens, your city has a problem. The post-loss violence is now being given a name: “The Vancouver effect.”

Every city has disaffected youth looking for trouble, but for some reason they don’t go off like this. Occasionally, other cities riot after sports victories – never after losses – and even that’s less common than it used to be, and it’s more of a “let’s get crazy drunk and celebrate” than “let’s burn the city down!”

I don’t have any brilliant solutions; I’m just trying to make the case that there is indeed a problem.

Did the city of Vancouver bring this riot on itself?

After the 1994 riots, suggestions were made about how to prevent future rioting. The authorities didn’t take the suggestions seriously.

The mayor of Vancouver said he was actually surprised by the level of violence. What planet is this man living on? Many feel his actions were largely to blame for the rioting in the first place.

Now’s the time to stop the excuse-making, stop the denial, and start taking action to ensure that in the future Vancouver can be known for its beautiful scenery and friendly environment rather than for its violent actions.

The many folks who came out to help clean up the city after the riots showed the best side of Vancouver. Those in charge should do right by them, by making sure they never have to clean up after a riot again.

Ok, that’s it for the rant. Feel free to disagree in the comments section. And if this was too heavy for you, come back Friday for another silly Quirky Attraction 🙂

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. Sports riots are part of the social fabric of the world. Just look in Europe after major matches. To those who think it is related only to Canada and Vancouver and not the US, you only have to look back to what happened in Boston in ’04 when the Red Sox won the Baseball World Series. There was even a riot in Burlington, Vermont the same evening 7 years ago. That is why there were police marching 6 abreast in dozens of rows around the Boston Garden on the night of the NHL championship. Too bad Vancouver got surprised, Too bad about alcohol infused insanity. Banning sports won’t help, but it is societal and cultural of violence that has the affect. The acceptable level of violence in a sport doesn’t correlate to lack of violence afterward as in Soccer riots all over the world.

  2. It could be a Canadian effect. This is something that happen in Vancouver, but in the past, same riots happen in Montreal. I am surprised that a city like Vancouver has not plan more security. I read that security was barely present. Here in Montreal, each time the local team play in their hometown, we see policemen downtown, some streets are being blocked sometime as well. Police here in Montreal get ready, because they know that hockey fans have smaller IQ (sorry for that one.. lol!) I am so not a hockey fan.

  3. I won’t reply individually to these as I pretty much said everything above. Thanks, everyone, for reading and for the thoughtful comments.

  4. Good post here, I think you share the same opinions as I do. I anticipated that win-or-lose there would be riots and violence in Vancouver. It seems to have somehow become acceptable to act out of control after huge events like sports finals.
    I think people don’t believe they’ll be punished if they’re part of the crowd and we possibly don’t have enough alternative ways to vent off frustrations. IMO what happened in Vancouver would happen in many other cities across in Canada, as some people have a warped concept on what ‘freedom’ is these days. Too bad they ruin city reputations for the rest of us.

  5. Vancouver is a relatively unknown city to me, so I didn’t know this history of violence. Odd how sports help bring out the best – and also the worst in people. Or perhaps it’s just an excuse…

  6. I guess I just don’t understand what compels these kids to riot. I mean, it seems like the lot of them are quite privileged and they don’t really have anything solid to complain about (as a group).

    It seems like they’re just doing it for fun, or because they can, which in my opinion is totally f*cked up. Protesting serious issues is one thing, but burning cop cars because you don’t have anything “better” to do on a Friday night is beyond ridiculous. It’s a disgrace.

  7. I’ve been trying for a while to figure out why this happens in Vancouver so much. It actually makes sense if you go by the few people that I know from Vancouver.

    They are WAY sensitive when it comes to having their freedoms/civil liberties/whatever encroached upon.

    They see police in riot gear and already they are wound up, even if nothing is happening yet. Then somebody in the crowd gets pushy or violent and the police respond, mostly as they should. This enrages the Sensitives and they start shouting at the police and disregarding their authority.

    It just continues to escalate from there.

    It pisses me off because the Sensitives are generally good people trying to stand up for people that might get trod on otherwise. They just take it TOO FAR and this crap happens.

    It’s just like when I see somebody tweet something that is insensitive toward a particular group without realizing it. Then people go all batshit in response, despite an apology by the original poster. It’s nuts.

    Sometimes you do have to take some small injustices for the greater good, you know, for the sake of not destroying a city.

    But hell, that’s all just opinion and conjecture. Your mileage may vary.

  8. Honestly, I don’t think this is an issue that is unique to Vancouver. Having lived in LA for a few years we were always wary of riots starting in the Downtown area when the Lakers would compete for the NBA Finals. Even in Europe riots start because of football games. I think it’s mob psychology at work. I can’t attempt to explain it but it’s something that makes me very disappointed.

  9. As a Canadian I hate that this is what Vancouver gets attention for (I’m not blaming you, I’m blaming Vancouverites) and I do believe that this is not representative of most Vancouerites, but it is what people remember. I agree, that a pattern has developed and something needs to be done about it.

  10. Yeesh. I love Vancouver, but you’re right, there is a larger problem here. I blame it on sports. Maybe if we just banned sports altogether these stupid sports-based riots would end. Okay.. maybe a bit extreme.

  11. After spending time in Vancouver, I was surprised that this happened. Based on my experiences with the people there, I was quite shocked and disappointed that this happened. I do believe you are right about one thing – much of it was done by the youth. I know alcohol played a part in this but is this just a Vancouver thing? Maybe Vancouver is a big city with not much to do so riots are a way to release some of that pent up energy. I don’t know the answers to this. I don’t understand the mob mentality. You’re right that this happens in this city more than it should. I just don’t understand why.

  12. It’s an interesting point. Alcohol brings out the “asshole” in people and I thought it was strange that people would dismiss this event because “Canadians are nice”. There’s obviously a bigger problem here…

  13. Scott,

    I was one of those who declared that the rioting was not characteristic of the Vancouver that I know. It could have been interpreted as dismissing the outrageous and uncivilized rage that occurred after the game. Though that wasn’t my intent, it did come across as cavalier at best. You have properly taken me to the woodshed for that. There is never an excuse for that type of behavior and to dismiss it, only fuels more of the same….as evidenced by the preceding incidents listed in your post. Thank you for reminding us that we must call out anything that is unjust and to hold people accountable for their actions.

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