The Vancouver Canucks lost their third chance to hoist the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night. The City of Vancouver, and the Metro Vancouver region, lost a reputation.
The last time the Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup final, back in 1994, there was a riot in downtown Vancouver. One person suffered serious injuries, store windows were broken and thousands were caught up in mischief and mayhem.
This left a permanent stain on the reputation of Vancouver, as a city of sore losers and one where mayhem could break out, on almost a moment’s notice.
It took years to deal with the aftermath. The 1994 riot was one reason that the security budget for the 2010 Winter Olympics was so large — organizers and all three levels of government did not want a repeat.
The day after the Olympics began last February, a group of anarchists known as “the Black bloc” broke store windows and frightened visitors. Reprisals were swift and security was noticeably stepped up.
From that point on, the Olympics became a wonderful, peaceful event, with thousands of people on the streets day and night, and almost no incidents. When the Canadian men’s hockey team won the gold medal in the final event of the Games, there was celebration, elation and no trouble.
Perhaps that fooled Vancouver Police. Perhaps they felt that all the people who congregate in downtown Vancouver when there is a major event underway are willing to behave themselves. On all the previous evenings, with Canucks’ games televised for huge crowds on the streets, things were peaceful. There were minimal problems. Before Game 6 and Game 7, liquor stores were closed early, in order not to give a few people a chance to fuel themselves with alcohol.
However, the game wasn’t even over before trouble began. People were overturning vehicles, setting them on fire, leading charges to break windows, looting, stabbing others and taunting police, who showed amazing restraint. All the carefully-built improvement to the reputation of the city and region was destroyed, and millions of dollars in damage was incurred.
Those who photographed and took videos of lawbreakers need to pass that information on to police (firstname.lastname@example.org), and justice needs to be swift. Some lawbreakers will be punished, but the reputation of Metro Vancouver will remain tarnished for a long time to come.