Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Semi-Fictionalized First-Hand Account of the 2011 Vancouver Riot

So a couple of friends and I headed downtown yesterday to watch the game on the street. We decided to stay even after it seemed pretty clear that the Canucks were going to lose and that the crowd was becoming increasingly unruly. What followed was incredibly retarded.

"Shit guys! We're down three-nothing going into the third period. You wanna hit the road?" I, the perennial bandwagoner, asked.

"Dude, have faith. We still have twenty minutes to tie it up and push it into overtime," reassured the delusional, but obscenely tall Damian.

"Go, Canucks! Go!" shouted Dana who was perched on Damian's back so she could see the screen. He would have complained about the damage it was doing to his back, but Damian is a man, so instead all he said was that she's heavier than she looks.

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure people are chanting 'Fuck Boston' now. I don't think anybody shares your positive attitude. People seem more interested in that guy risking his life trying to touch the stoplight than they do in the game."

"Well, it is significantly more entertaining."

"Fine, but the second this game is over let's meet up with the others and get out of here."

So, about 45 minutes later, the Canucks lost the game and we slowly made our way through the crowd towards the bar our friends were watching the game at. Apparently they were having a lot of trouble paying the bill and were taking a long time to come out. We stood around moping for a while until we noticed that there was a rather large fire blazing outside the post office near the big screen. Despite my belief that it was fundamentally a bad idea to head towards the inferno, Dana and Damian charged off anyway to have a better look. I followed and stood with Dana on a nearby truck while she recorded it on her cellphone. Damian, as stated earlier, is ginormous and has no need to climb on top of things for a better view. It seemed that some hooligans had overturned and set fire to a car and were now taking turns posing in front of it.

"Yep, this is definitely retarded," I pointed out even though it was definitely unnecessary to do so.

A fire truck appeared on the scene shortly and eventually managed to push aside the masses so it could get close enough to extinguish the flames. For about ten minutes it looked as though the Great 2011 Riot may have ended then and there, but I forgot to take into account who drunk and stupid people can be. At this point Zach, Taylor, Mannu, and Mannu's UVic friend, Caitlin, emerged from the bar and joined us. Zach and Mannu seemed sober enough, but Taylor was flailing and stumbling about all over the place while Caitlin was crying and kept wandering off. At this point I thought it would be a good time to leave, but Mannu wanted to go to some afterparty, and Taylor really, really, really wanted to get a hold of his bff Jade whom he had just met that day and was apparently responsible for 6 of the 16-18 drinks he'd had. According to Zach he had tried to rip a menu in half and tear his shirt off, apparently in a rage over the Canucks. All of these plans, however, went out the window when we saw that a second blaze had started near the first one. This time I didn't even bother trying to stop them from rushing over. Now it was a pick-up truck they had flipped and burned while a group of rioters stood on the burnt out husked of their previous victim. The firemen were still there, but they didn't seem too interested in putting out these flames. I figured that was a bad sign. Soon riot police were visible while Dana tried jumping on our backs and conveniently placed step-ladder to get a better look. We heard a loud bang coming from the truck which elicited wild cheers from the crowd.

"Woooooo!" cheered a shitfaced Taylor.

"Dammit, Taylor! No! This is not the kind of thing you should be applauding."

"I dunno wahts goin' on."

"It's a riot, Taylor."


"Hey guys, where did Mannu and Caitlin go?" asked a concerned Zach.

"Oh Caitlin wandered off again and Mannu went looking for her," answered Damian nonchalantly.

"Dammit guys! Now is not the time to start splitting up!"

More bangs led to more cheers until it became apparent that most of the bangs were now coming from the riot police who were slowly moving forward while firing off flash-bangs, pepper spray, and cans of tear gas. Some rioters ran past alternately clutching their ears and eyes. The crowd started streaming backwards until we were no longer 100 feet from the action, but right up front. Some of the police were on horseback, which I didn't even know they did for anything other than ceremonial purposes, so I guess I learned something. We were behind some of those blue fences which the rioters began to knock over. One started to fall on top of Zach, but he made it out without a scrape.

By now, Mannu had returned with Caitlin and we figured that it would be a good idea to move back. We made our way out until I noticed Dana was not with us. She was still standing right up front taking pictures. I grabbed her by the hood and pulled her back, because I had had just about enough of this bullshit. The rioters were now picking up the fences they'd knocked over and were using them as ineffective shields/weapons while people standing above outside the Queen Elizabeth theatre started throwing plants down. I'm not really sure why, but at this point I don't think anybody had a clear idea of why they were doing what they were doing. One rioter ran off shouting about how much he hates "the system" and it took all the power I had not to shout "I throw it on the ground! Because I'm an adult!" at him. In case it wasn't already clear from the beginning, by now it was obvious that this uprising had nothing to do with hockey and was more about being crazy just because they can.

"Isn't this awesome guys!" exclaimed a bewilderingly excited Mannu as a clod of dirt whizzed over his head. "Riots are fucking intense!"

"Fantastic. Now let's get out of here."

"But dude, I don't want to miss anything. They've lit like four fires! Who knows what will happen next!"

"Exactly. I don't want to be around here if and when people start throwing punches."

Some brave Vancouverites were trying to get the rioters to back off and stop being morons. For his efforts one of them was punched in the face by a rioter. Some people surged forward, but quickly backed off when the police fired some more shots.

"Dude! Did you see that!"

"I sure did. Now let's go."

As we made our way towards the nearest Skytrain station, the riot squad made a huge push which almost seemed to disperse the crowd, but then a couple rioters found a pair of cop cars in a parking lot across from the QE. They immediately set to trashing them and turning them on their side.

"Guys, I'm gonna hop over this fence for a better look," cried Mannu who did just that before anybody could stop him. Much to my disappointment, Zach and Damian followed suit. Also, we'd lost Dana. Eventually, the mindless destruction lost it's novelty and everybody regrouped. We headed off towards the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station. We all laid down on some grass to gather ourselves as the rioters let the squad cars on fire behind us.

"Let's go guys," said Zach, and we all got up and hopped on a train to Waterfront for a quick Subway run.

"Man guys, you know how there are people who chase after tornadoes and storms. Well I wanna be like that except I chase after riots," mused an increasingly annoying Mannu. I didn't really care if he was joking or being serious, he was being a retarded bastard and I didn't feel like indulging him. We ate our sandwiches at Waterfront while hearing various reports and rumours about how things had gotten worse after we left, the riot had spread, looting had begun, more fires were lit, and some people had suffered serious injuries. Other than Mannu and Damian, none of us were particularly interested in investigating the veracity of what we'd heard. After eating we got back on the Skytrain and went home.

In conclusion, a small group of hooligans made Canucks fans in particular (and by extension all of Vancouver and most of BC) as well as Canadians in general look really bad while most people just looked on. Some cheered, others were ashamed, and many just wanted to record the spectacle. In any case, that one night pretty much canceled out everything the Olympics had accomplished in terms of city and national spirit.