In my last post, I mentioned that I felt I was only eligible for the job of street cleaner.
Sadly, in the wake of the Vancouver riot, it seems that a LOT of people have appointed themselves not only Judge, Jury… but potentially Executioner, as well.
For anyone who is unaware, Vancouver has enjoyed a spectacular few years, with the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the joyous crowds gathering together to celebrate the Canucks run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Until Game 7.
There was a different vibe for Game 7, which was tangible from before the Game’s start… in social media… in conversations… people were uncertain that the atmosphere would be the same as it had been previously.
I do not have enough knowledge of circumstances and situations to start to cast shadows of blame on the Police Department. Certainly, the Police have my utmost respect, for doing the best they can. Whether the VPD planners should have been more prepared for a bad situation is open for debate, in my opinion… but by better, more informed people than myself, and I am not going to wade into a conversation, when I don’t know the facts. But the individual Vancouver Police Officers have, and will continue to have, my respect and support.
The ugliness started, and idiots, fueled by crowds of “citizen journalists” and an apparent lack of response from the authorities, strove to outdo one another with acts of bravado and vandalism. Damage a car? Sure. Roll the car over? Better. Set it on fire? Great. Pee on the burning car, or jump on it and have your picture taken? Awesome.
But there weren’t enough cars available to assuage the hunger of the crowd, so the mob, swept up in some frenzied quest for displays of their power, went to the shopping areas, where the large plate glass windows were tempting targets for their collective rage… the mannequins in the display windows suitably flammable… and the products behind the smashed glass too tempting to pass up.
The observers captured it all on the upheld cameras and cellphones.
A brave few tried to intervene, but their efforts went largely unheeded, by a crowd prepared to express and expose their power, regardless of the people watching and capturing it.
A few hours later, the cleanup began.
Both in a literal, and figurative sense.
People gathered together in physical groups that manifested themselves in the downtown area… sweeping, cleaning, scrubbing… trying to restore a sense of normalcy, and remove the scorch marks and “stains” that the city and its reputation had gained, overnight.
People also gathered together online, and began to share with the Police the photographic evidence of what they had seen.
And, as they posted the evidence online, they also began sharing it amongst themselves.
“Let’s identify this guy” “Somebody must know this girl”
Until many were (apparently) identified, and their names, cities and a short bio were being circulated.
And then it transferred beyond Social Media.
I got an e-mail from a person, who is not on Twitter or Facebook, showing three individuals, complete with photos… and their information.
Some members of the community were gathering together, and with the same frenzy, were lashing out against these vandals.
Except there was no due process.
No one in authority reviewing or weighing any evidence… looking at whether it might be someone who looks like them… whether they have an alibi…
None of that.
Just a “The system won’t punish them properly, so we’ll do it ourselves” vigilante-style frontier justice.
One of the people identified in the e-mail, lives a few kilometers from my house.
It was easy for me to look up, the information in the e-mail gave me the Father’s name.
EXCEPT THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OR CORROBORATION THAT IT IS HIM.
And even if there was… It ISN’T my job !!!
If I was that Dad, and I found out that my family had been identified publicly by what seemed EVERY BIT a lynch mob… I would have left my house, and taken my family away… fearful that some do-gooder is going to come by and do an equally rash act, to “even things up.”
If you have photos of vandals, send them to the Police.
The Police will sift through the evidence, and if there is enough proof, pass the case along to Crown Counsel, and it will proceed through the proper channels.
If you take the law into your own hands, in my opinion you are no better than the vandals.
You have been swept up by an angry mob, bent on causing damage… and not caring who gets hurt in the process.
I am a Social Media guy.
I love that within hours of the riot starting on Wednesday, there was a group forming online to try to help make things better.
We all saw the power of talking, and gathering together, in Egypt and Libya.
However, there is also a nastiness online, called cyber-bullying.
We must be vigilant that in our efforts to help out, we do not cause more harm.
An ugly mob is an ugly mob… whether on the side of “right” or “wrong”.
Posted 5 hours later:
And apparently many of the identified vandals and their families have received threats.
A sad day indeed…
The rioters do not represent my City…
But the vigilantes don’t represent my Social Media, either.