Friday, June 17, 2011

The Disgrace Isn't Losing Game Seven

Bruce Hutchinson wrote Thursday in The National Post:  "Two Vancouver Police Department spokespeople made themselves available to media.  They stood outside the Sears building, a block south of West Georgia.  'Where are your officers?' I asked Constable Jana McGuinness.  'We have a full public safety unit deployed right now,' she said.  'We have hundreds of officers, a full deployment.  They’re all over.'  Well, no, they weren’t.  Some were standing in a circle a few metres from the constable, but they still weren’t out in force on West Georgia Street.  I’m not blaming police for what happened this night.  But did they not anticipate the worst?  They should have.  Because a lot of us did.  Because something is fundamentally wrong in the city and the surrounding region.  A riot after Game Seven in 1994.  A riot after a rock concert.  A silly episode of street violence early on, during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.  Look, I was in Calgary in 2004, on the Red Mile, and Game Seven didn’t work out too well there, either.  And there might - might - have been a broken pane of glass at the end of all of that.  It’s half past ten now, and the smashing and looting still hasn’t stopped.  Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has issued a statement, expressing his 'disappointment' with the mindless looting and violence.  Vancouver, he said, 'is a world class city.'  Sorry Mayor. But it’s not."
       The mayhem in Vancouver, of course, was going on at exactly the same time as the riots in Athens.  The difference is that the assholes in Vancouver were rioting over a game that didn't go their way, while the Athenians were protesting deep austerity cuts that will affect their standard of living for decades to come.  Don't get me wrong, I believe Greece needs to get its act together, but Vancouver needs to even more so.  It takes a long time to build a reputation but one can be ruined in an instant, and Vancouver risks becoming known as "Riot City" (if it isn't already).  I have no doubt that there were anarchists and other instigators in the crowd, but the claim that all those Canuck jerseys weren't on the backs of fans is ludicrous.  The city authorities screwed up - big time - and their lack of preparedness just means that insurance rates will go up again ... and potential visitors will stay away.