Three days after the Stanley Cup final riot, Vancouver felt like a subdued city.
On what would normally be a busy Saturday, the downtown core seemed strangely quiet. Most of the activity that did take place was centered around the boards that cover The Bay store’s formerly glass windows.
Outside the store, a pancake breakfast was held for those who tried to intervene to stop the riot and looting and for those who helped clean up the mess afterwards— regular folks outraged by what they saw.
But unlike 72 hours earlier, when people scrambled to have their pictures taken in front of burning cars and smashed windows, grinning like fools for 15 minutes of Facebook fame, this time people scrambled to have their picture taken with Vancouver’s mayor in a show of solidarity to shame the rioters.
The plywood-covered windows have become a wooden Wailing Wall of sorts for Vancouverites, many of whom left scrawled messages of support for the city and their outrage at the moronic mass who smashed windows, burned cars, looted stores and caused mayhem.
But while The Bay became message central—first on the wooden boards and then, when room ran out, on homemade material signs hung in rows two deep the entire length of the store’s front awning—it is not the only site of wood over windows. There were plenty of those.
At the Bay, someone has written in large black letters over many of the simple messages of support, seven words that sum up the collective feeling of a city. “TO THE VANDALS. WE WILL GET YOU!!!”
And that’s just what’s happening on the Internet.
Close to a million images and 1,000 hours of video have been forwarded to the Vancouver police with the aim of outing the rioters and looters. On social media sites people are posting pictures slamming those appearing to enjoy the carnage.
The very people who think of themselves as part of the Internet Age are being now hoisted on their own electronic petards. What we have here is an Internet ass-kicking.
Did the idiots pictured actually think that with everyone now carrying a camera on their cellphones they would go about their destructive ways unnoticed? Were they really so stupid as to think there would be anonymity in a crowd of people hell bent on recording the moment for posterity?
The current name and shame campaign using social media is likely to carry huge ramifications for the many who acted like idiots. And rightly so.
What’s unfortunate is the aftermath will not get the international attention the rioting got. And that’s a pity because that story is proving to be just as powerful.
Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.