There is another side to the Vancouver riots following the initial night of fires and looting and mayhem after the Canucks' loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
The people of the city, the residents, the students, the workers poured into the downtown streets, writing notes of apology on the plywood coverings over the shop windows of The Bay, a large downtown department store whose windows were smashed permitting hundreds of thousands of dollars of looting and damage. Then the morning after, literally thousands once again came to the riot location, with brooms and dustbins to gather up the broken glass and the rest of the garbage. These were volunteers, unpaid, people who did not want the black mark to become a permanent characterization of their city and were determined to erase whatever they could from the melee. They posted notes on police cars espressing gratitude and support for the job the police had attempted to do on the night of the riot. And the next day, Friday, thousands more came downtown and literally danced and sang in the streets, hugging policemen, and accepting gift cards from shops like the Benze coffee shop where workers were literally barricaded for hours on the night of the riot itself, and whose shop was protected by citizens who stood guard out front, prohibiting looters and rioters to enter and to inflict more damage. The owner was so grateful he distributed $5000 worth of gift cards to the joyous crowd.
The police have received some 1,000,000 photos from social media, submitted by ordinary citizens who captured the images during the worst of the rampage and wished to do their part to bring the perpetrators to justice. The city of Vancouver, if any city could, has turned their night of horror into a community building and a community celebrating esperience, much of which has been carried on national television, if not on social media.
This tiny piece is written in tribute to the citizens of Vancouver who have taken responsibility for their city's reputation, and have volunteered their time and energy, without any thought of compensation, so that their city could return to normal as quickly as possible. I challenge any city in the world to demonstrate a similar level of commitment and civic pride immediately following a night of roudiness, drunkenness and insanity.
Congratulations. Vancouver, for making all Canadians proud of your city. Like the NDP convention held there this weekend, the rest of Canada owes you our collective gratitude and a long-overdue visit.
P.S. There is a new phenomenon emerging in this story: the revenge of the facebook users who have apparently threatened one family enough that they have moved out of their home because their lives were threatened, because their son was allegedly seen in photos on facebook committing a criminal act.
It is not an accident that Vancouver police have reversed their story about a bunch of hoodlums to mostly middle and upperclass youths as the principal perpetrators of the damage and mayhem last Wednesday night.