Taking back OUR Vancouver: how to respond to the riots

Vancouver Riots Cleanup

June 15, 2011 will now remain a historical day for Vancouver. And it’s not because our home team played game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals that day; it’s not even because the Vancouver Canucks has failed to clinch the title. It’s because of what happened after.

Unfortunately, while thousands of people chose to do the right thing and leave downtown Vancouver after cheering for the Canucks, many young men and women chose to start a riot, causing millions of dollar in property damage and generating “billion dollars worth of bad publicity“.

For many of us who were glued to our television that night, the images coming out of downtown were devastating. It was mind-boggling how these supposedly hockey fans can damage their own city. At a time like this though, it is important to point out that the majority of Vancouverites did not want the riots. Simply put, true Canucks fans did not wish to cause harm to businesses, individuals, and properties after the game.

In fact, almost immediately after reports of the riots have came out, many Vancouverites started looking for ways to help re-build the city.

One such effort was the Vancouver Post-Riot Clean up. Through the Facebook event, volunteers were mobilized to help clean up downtown Vancouver the day after the riot. The cleanup was so successful that media outlets such as the Globe and Mail have taken notice; the City of Vancouver also released a press release calling the efforts “truly inspiring.”

Downtown Vancouver is relatively back to normal now, but if you’re still looking for ways to help, here are some ideas:

- Help the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) reprimand the hooligans by sending them photos, forwarding any tips, or (anonymously) upload videos
- Contact Crime Stoppers to submit a tip anonymously about the riots
- Consider supporting the affected businesses to help them recover from the damages caused by the riots
- Visit and leave a message on the “Wall of Love” outside the Bay on Georgia (You can also sign a petition to keep the wall.)
- Let the world know how much you love Vancouver by using the hashtag #thisismyvancouver on Twitter

Vancouver Riots Cleanup

By the way, while there is a Facebook page and a Tumblr blog set up where people can upload images and videos of the rioters, I encourage you to think twice before posting there. Alexandra Samuel, in a Harvard Business Review article, made a good argument against citizen surveillance.  Personally, the article made me think twice about those Facebook and Tumblr pages. I encourage you to please contact VPD directly instead; it’s safer, and (in my view) more ethical.

June 15, 2011 — this date forever leaves a black mark to our wonderful city.  Our city may have been knocked down, but through volunteerism, we’re showing the world what we’re truly made of. This date will be part of our history, but how Vancouverites responded to the riots will be what defines us.

By Kelvin Claveria

Photo: kris krüg (Flickr)