After Vancouver riots, signs of gratitude shown to Vancouver Police

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In the wake of the  heartbreaking riots here in  Vancouver after the Stanley Cup hockey finals, citizens gathered in an impromptu fashion to thank police officers -– the men and women who, in a tremendously difficult and dangerous situation, did their best during the mayhem to protect and serve.

While running an errand that morning, I happened to be around the corner from the Vancouver Police Department headquarters at 2nd and Cambie.

As I checked emails on my iPhone, I read one from a friend telling me she had heard on the news that a growing tribute had spontaneously sprung up in front of the VPD  in a most unusual way.

I was glad to hear that we Vancouverites were letting our police force know how much we appreciated their hard work on Wednesday night. Being so close by, I went over to see what was happening.

I was greeted by the most extraordinary sight –- a Vancouver police car, the same as the ones that were set ablaze two nights ago, was completely decked out with sticky notes of all shapes, sizes, and colours. Each sticky had a handwritten message from grateful citizens -- thanking them, encouraging them, validating them for their courage -– in the most heartfelt of ways. I quickly wrote my simple message and stuck it on the car where I could find a space:

“Please don’t take on the shame of that night, it isn’t yours. Thank you for all you did, and for all you do.”

I then noticed a man dressed in shorts and a T-shirt standing at the rear of the car. He looked a bit dazed and I wondered if he was okay. The Global TV reporter standing nearby told me that he was one of the officers who had been downtown that night, and I knew I wanted to say something to him. I repeated to him what I'd written about not taking on anyone else’s shame.

His response almost made me cry when he very quietly said: “That’s such a hard thing to remember.”

We talked a bit more and he took both of my hands in his and said, “Thank you so much –- all of this means more to us than you could know.”

 

The truth is that nobody’s perfect. Not you, not I, not even our police officers. They make mistakes sometimes, big and small. But, in general, I think they do their very best to protect us and to keep Vancouver the relatively safe big city it is. And on Wednesday night, they worked hard to show that to us.

I was so happy to have the opportunity to give my thanks for a job well done to an officer who is used to criticism and had just come off a night of hell. As the media reports are telling us, cops were being physically attacked, injured, and called every kind of name, and, because in many cases they couldn't tell the thugs from the bystanders, they just kept repeating the same mantra hundreds of times to the countless drunks, hooligans and yahoos on our downtown streets:  "Just Go Home."  

I’m so glad we are taking the time to give our collective thanks to the women and the men of the Vancouver Police Department.

Along with the good folks of Vancouver who took brushes, mops, and brooms to clean up someone else's mess the next morning, we have reason to give gratitude to those officers -- and to the prevailing good spirit that is the heart of this beautiful city -- my home.

That is what the real Vancouver is made of.

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