COLUMN: Hockey fans were part of the anarchy

It seems another rude awakening is due, after last week’s sickening display of violence in downtown Vancouver.

Almost immediately after the Stanley Cup riot of 2011, authorities were blaming the mayhem on a small number of “anarchists, criminals, thugs, etc.”

It sounded plausible.

It seems another rude awakening is due, after last week’s sickening display of violence in downtown Vancouver.

Almost immediately after the Stanley Cup riot of 2011, authorities were blaming the mayhem on a small number of “anarchists, criminals, thugs, etc.”

It sounded plausible.

Even better, for “true” hockey fans, and embarrassed Lower Mainlanders, it was a good explanation for the gross behaviour.

Except, it’s not exactly accurate.

Seems most of the louts responsible for the destruction, the fires, and the looting, are not dyed-in-the-wool professional rabble-rousers.

Most of the young men tipping cars, smashing windows, and throwing newspaper boxes weren’t anarchists. Half of them probably wouldn’t even know what the word meant.

They’re just goons. And there were a lot of them.

It’s now emerging that of the 100-plus individuals arrested for a variety of offences, only a handful have previous criminal records.

One hapless fellow, who was outed by a picture of him stuffing a lit rag into the gas tank of a police car, is actually a star water polo player from Maple Ridge.

There is similar anecdotal evidence coming from those who are turning themselves in to police, or offering public apologies.

One young woman said she just got caught up in the moment.

Another opined on Facebook that picking up merchandise from a looted store seemed OK if it was someone else who actually stole it.

No anarchists there, folks.

Just unthinking, impressionable people.

The video footage shows hundreds of people cheering while the destruction went on. They posed in front of burning cars. They taunted and threw objects at police.

I’ll bet if you asked them today if they are hockey fans, they’d answer sincerely, yes.

They didn’t start the afternoon intending to wreak destruction. They came to watch the game. And when that turned sour, and more exciting entertainment was provided, they absorbed it all, with varying levels of delight and participation.

They took photos and video, and ramped up the masochistic, testosterone- and alcohol-fuelled rampage. Those who had enough booze in them, and not nearly enough moral fibre, joined in.

Yes, apparently there were some individuals who came prepared to riot, equipped with accelerants and weapons and gas masks.

But they wouldn’t have been able to wreak millions of dollars worth of damage without support and help from a howling, frenzied mob of young onlookers, who prevented police from getting at the core of the rampaging.

It was a stunning example of crowd behaviour, and a deeply disturbing comment on this society.

Those huge throngs of happy fans filling the streets of Vancouver after each Canuck victory had the potential to turn ugly, just as they did last Wednesday night.

All it takes is the right catalyst.

So, let’s not kid ourselves about how these weren’t hockey fans.

Put a Canucks jersey on a goon, and he’s still a goon.

And as we’ve witnessed, put otherwise relatively “normal” people in an environment of alcohol, adrenalin and violence, and some of them become goons, if only “in the moment.”


Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read