I am heartbroken and angry today after the destruction and violence of last night. Like many Vancouverites, I am embarrassed and ashamed of our city but it goes beyond that. This has really, really hit me deep and I think I have finally come to the heart of why.

 Kudos to the organizers and participants of the volunteer clean-up efforts downtown today. Good for them for taking their energy and doing something productive with it, creating something positive for their fellow citizens. I found myself thinking, what can I do along those lines? What could I enlist my friends in that would turn this negative situation into something positive? And then I started to feel really, really angry. I didn't understand at first but then suddenly I realized why. Because I already do that. Every day. And so do the majority of people I know.

My community is made up of artists, organizers, parents, volunteers, teachers...people who take every single day as an opportunity to create something positive for our fellow citizens, to try to make the world a better place.

The arts community alone has spent at least as much time lobbying and fighting to hold on to financial and public support for the arts as actually creating art these past couple of years. These are not people in it for the money (ha!), these are people who truly believe that what they do makes their communities and their world a better place for their fellow human beings.

We also do this work in a city that often seems hell bent on proving that annoying nickname "No Fun City" is appropriate. How many times have you visited another city and marveled at their thriving cultural scene? Enjoyed not feeling like you were being babysat? Wished Vancouver would loosen up its by-laws and its archaic attitudes towards what is safe and fun for the public? Now how many times have you come back home and worked on doing something to make Vancouver "more fun"? If you are someone I know, your answer is probably "all the time"!

 So when I sat watching a bunch of idiots deftly dismantle the efforts of people who work so hard to make this city a culturally vibrant place to be, my heart sank. And then it started to pound. I thought about the fireworks. I'm not personally a fan but I love anything that provides free, outdoor, family-friendly entertainment.

You don't think that event's already tenuous support will be affected? I thought about the Rio Theatre. Many of us wrote letters and signed petitions in support of the Rio obtaining a liquor license so that they can bring in more revenue and expand the great entertainment programming they provide. You don't think new liquor license applications are going to be considered in a different light?

As if they weren't ridiculously hard to get as it is! And, okay, if you don't care about the arts or family-friendly entertainment, what do you think is going to happen the next time a large scale sporting event is being considered for approval? Even if such public events do get approved, you can bet a requirement will be increased insurance, security, police presence.

Who do you think pays for that? The hockey players who make millions of dollars? The advertisers and merchandisers who are rich off of our event-related purchasing? Fairies and fucking pixies? No! We do! Our tax dollars do! Tax dollars that could be spent on--stay with me here--EVENTS AND SUPPORT FOR OUR COMMUNITY! So, I feel nothing short of enraged that the jobs of people I love, who are already working their asses off, just got much harder because a bunch of idiots thought it would be fun to get drunk and fuck shit up.

 Thanks. Thanks so very much, assholes.

People keep saying that the people responsible for the destruction and violence do not represent Vancouver. Well, guess what? They do now. Next time someone wants to hold a big outdoor celebration--they'll represent us. Next time someone applies for a liquor license--they'll represent us. Next time those of us who have viable ideas about how to make this No Fun City a city to be proud of--the jerks taking pictures of themselves in front of burning cars and looting stores will be speaking for us. And I for one really, really resent that.

 Hey, hooligans! When was the last time one of you applied for a grant to support your arts festival? When was the last time one of you volunteered time equivalent to that of a second job to raise money for organization you care about? You have no idea, no clue whatsoever what goes into organizing even a small event at a local restaurant, let alone a giant event on the scale of something like what was put on FOR YOU yesterday.

 Fuck you. Fuck you for your selfishness, your short-sightedness and your immaturity. But most of all, fuck you for spitting in the faces of all of us who love Vancouver and work so hard to make it a place we all--including you--want to be. And before anyone says, "Those were jerks from Surrey! They weren't Vancouverites!", it doesn't matter. This isn't about geography, this is about participating in humanity. Nihilism fueled by privilege is stupid. When you get offered great things by people working extremely hard to provide them to you--for free!--if you don't want them, stay home and punch yourself in the face if you hate yourself so much. Let those of us who care about someone other than ourselves enjoy the fruits of community participation. You certainly don't deserve it.

 Am I being self-righteous? You bet your ass I am. As a caring, participating, hard-working citizen I am furious. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am always about getting to the root of a problem and trying to fix it, that I abhor criticism for the sake of criticism instead of discussion aimed at a more positive outcome.

Not today. Today I am angry and heart-broken and exhausted. Today I am pointing fingers without solutions. Today I can't even wrap my head around how to come to some kind of positive next steps when last night my fellow citizens caused unjustifiable destruction or (just as horrifying in my opinion) stood by and cheered or just watched. As far as I'm concerned, if you didn't remove yourself from downtown when things turned ugly, let alone hours later, you are complicit.

 I know that I'll move past this place and get back to helping build the community and the world I want to live in because that's what I am about at the core of my person. But I am well aware that, when I do, that work will be harder. Not because I care less, but because some ingrates made it so. I have lots of questions about what makes someone act that way, what is underneath behaviour like that and what can I do in my life to create a world where people don't feel compelled to act that way? But not today. Today I only have one question for those involved in the riots:

 How dare you? Oh, and fuck you.

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Comments

Why do we riot?

Check out the videos, no not from last nite, the videos we all watch. The same ones they watch in the slums of any city in the world.... We of privillige and outrage, how could this happen? Given a chance, most of them would have burnt down the city.

good on ya, Morgan. Hang in

good on ya, Morgan. Hang in there. People have a way of coming together and working this sort of shit out. But for now; Fuck 'em!

Jeff from Sydney, Australia.

Couldn't have said it better

I am sharing your article with everyone I know.  It describes exactly how I feel.

I have for years been involved in Vancouver's cultural scene.  I sing in, and served on the board of an award-winning choir, which is suffering from government cutbacks, and from empty seats.  I have been a part of, and even organized, peaceful advocacy for the arts.  I am a builder, like you.

I was in tears last night, not just from the tear gas, but because all the work that I and my friends have put into building was torn down last night by these reckless individuals, who can't see their actions past their noses.

The riots last night made headlines around the world, and this is how people will see our city now, not as the cultural hotspot we've put so much effort into building, but as a group of individuals who wreak havoc over the loss of a game.

Let me join with you in saying, "Fuck you."

pixies and fairies

What does she have against pixies and fairies?

pixies and fairies

What does she have against pixies and fairies?

Thanks!

Thank you for saying this (albeit with some language that is a bit too close to the lexicon of most of the hooligans). Nonetheless, I totally share your sentiments! These low-lifes who have no respect for the community that offers them so much are "takers" and not "givers". I actually feel sorry for them as they will never know what it is to be real citizens-- where rights and privileges come with responsibilities and obligations.

Here, here!

Thanks Morgan.  As an ex-Vancouverite, and a proud one, it really saddened and angered me to see the coverage of the nonsense that went on in Vancouver the other night...all the way here in England.  Thank you for being one of the pixies and fairies who does spend an awful lot of time trying to nurture 'community' and 'creativity'. And, thanks for your outrage.  Too often the people picking up the pieces and knitting things back together don't get a place from which to say much of anything at all, and if they do, it doesn't go out as far and wide as the reporting of the damage they are trying to mend.  Just so you know, I can hear you loud and clear all the way over here.

Excellent!!!

Very well said, Morgan. I was angry all day yesterday because I can see that the arse wipes who instigated, participated, cheered and watched have no concept of the far reaching damage they've done.

Let's not forget how many people did not have a workplace to go to to earn a living today... and probably for several days until windows and doors are replaced, damages repaired and stolen stock replaced. The people whose cars were destroyed and are left with no transportation (insurance does not cover riots and acts of war) or huge repair bills. The small businesses that will have to close because the cost of reopening is beyond their financial means. The list goes on.

After the hockey riots of 1994, Vancouver housing values did a "correction" downward of 23%. How much do you want to bet another "correction" occurs in the next week or 2? Plunging home/condo owners into a financial pit.

I'm in Ottawa but am so completely appaled at the behaviour of everyone in those riots (they were there from all over North America)... including Vancouver police who were woefully unprepared and allowed under age drinking and other infractions prior to the riots. Activities that fuel this sort of mindless stupidity.

nailed it!

this is the best piece written about what has happened and sums up how a lot of people feel, and then reaches even further and deeper into issues that hold this city back having not just a cultural scene but a thriving one?

Thanks for nailing it

Hey Morgan,

I was madder than hell as well.  When my eyes filled with tears watching it all happen on TV I didn't understand my fury."Crime happens all the time," I thought.  What you said made me realize the anger is for those people who don't give a shit, who make the worst out of an already bad situation and then get media attention for it. The icing on the cake is now that's what is known as "Vancouver" and I and all the rest of the hard working people have to take the blame and the shame of it all.

Thanks for nailing it

Hey Morgan,

I am madder than hell as well.  I watched it all happen on the news after returning from downtown.  When my eyes filled with tears I didn't understand my fury, "Crime happens all the time" I thought. 

What you said made me realize the anger is for those people who don't give a shit, who made the worst out of an already bad situation and then got media attention for it. The icing on the cake is now that's considered "Vancouver" and I and all the rest of the hard working people have to be lumped into that group.  We all have to take the blame and the shame.

BRAVA!!!

I'm currently digesting the contents of this articulately and emphatically expressed opinion in efforts to render my fist-pump of support in a fashion that looks like something other than... well... a fist-pump.  Working on it.  Brava, Morgan.  Brava!

Calm down...

Hi Morgan, Thank you for your thoughts here are mine.

I have heard a lot of reactions about the aftermath of the final game and I notice I am not as moved by the riots like many people seem to be. In the Netherlands we had our share of soccer riots and have come up with measures to deal with that type of violence, like so many countries have around the world. Sports violence is not new, also not new to Vancouver: it happened here in 1994 as well. The lessons of 1994 were clearly not used when the viewing parties were organized for these Stanley Cup series. Vancouver should be lucky that things didn’t get out of hand earlier in the final series.

Not without dedain, the CBC hosts were looking at Boston for not organizing large viewing parties. “We, here in Vancouver, are privileged that we can do it. We must have grown that we can do it.” I heard numerous times. They must have had a little laugh in Boston seeing the game aftermath. I also had to suppress a little "Yeah, sure." I am not sure why people in Vancouver think the city is so different from the rest of the world, when it is clearly not. We have the same make up of peoples, the same age groups: -also the young males that are most likely to get hyped up and get involved in riots.

I have questions for the organizing party and the police. It is all nice when you organize something like this, but pumping 100,000 people into a small area of downtown is not without risks. Ignoring these risks doesn't mean you cannot be held accountable especially when recommendations were available from the 1994 riots.

At the same time it is well known violence on the sports field will translate into violence outside the stadium. Being new to Ice-hockey, I had never seen a full game until the third game of the final series, and I was stunted to see the level of violence in these games and very poor refereeing. Disturbing was the sheering by supporters for nasty stuff that happened on the ice. It is naïve to think that doesn’t carry on outside the stadium.

Conclusion
-The perpetrators of the riots be punished appropriately.
-The city and the police should be held accountable for the poor organizing job.
-Clear scripts to be developed for policing of future events.
-To limit the violence on ice, the cities should start charging the hockey clubs for policing costs. This will very quickly change the rules of the game.

And for people of Vancouver, calm down, nasty things happen from time to time. Deal with them and move on. I don’t have suddenly bad feelings about Vancouver because of this. Maybe a little bit of sympathy because the city has come of its pedestal and has joined the rest of the world.

Thank-you for writing what we

Thank-you for writing what we all feel.

Excellent Op-Ed by Morgan Braydon

Great piece & well expresses the disgust & how I and so many frustrated locals feel.

Thanks!

Well said Morgan. Thanks for putting into words, what so many of us have been feeling since Wed night. You've made a new fan.

Well said...but

I agree with everything in this article, but I'd like to add something regarding the people who stuck around downtown, even if they weren't actively part of creating the chaos.

Because of those people and their thousands of cameras, many of the rioters who would otherwise never be identified, are being identified and charged. And the next time this happens (God forbid, but things do happen), those people will be there again. Only next time the losers might remember what happened and know that every move they make is being documented. I heard stories that even people who covered their faces while commiting acts of violence were stalked by people with cameras until they got a clear face shot.

Agreed but a thought

Well said, in so many ways. However, as my wife commented and turns out she was right. This was not some anarchists or repeat offenders that caused the nightmare, it was many middle class young men. Your neighbour's kid, you know the one who is the captain of the soccer team, or the girl that was on the honor roll last year. That's right...young people that have been given all the accolades for a very one dimensional life. They may have excelled at being a student or an athlete or whatever, but they are failures as people with empathy and heart. 

So many of the people responsible, being photographed looting or destroying property were NOT from Vancouver, they were from outside, but they were part of our community. We have one local kid who is a poster boy athlete in mountain biking, heralded by the community as a wonderful young man. He posted this great image of himself atop a burning police car. He has quickly apologized. Too late. His true colours, lack of judgement, sense of hubris and arrogance has already come thru just like the hundreds, perhaps thousands of others during that night who watched it all happen and did nothing but cheer and celebrate. 

Prosecute every one of them to the fullest extent of the law. Shame every single one of them, identify every person in every photo standing around cheering on the bad guys and publish a page of shame on the net and in the newspaper every day for the next 6 months. Then their community, their employer, their families can get a look at the real character of these people. Perhaps then we can start to understand that this "rot" at the core of our communities begins and ends with those around us that we rationalize as "good people" despite their absence of empathy, character and honest integrity towards their community and the rest of the world. 

 

Well said, thank you!

This is the best commentary I've read so far on that whole shameful night.  Well said.

Hooligans is only partly right

That was a terrific commentary, Morgan, but now that we've all got our "Fuck you's" out, how do we move forward?

It was a very shameful night, but I'm not sure shaming, what were probably beforehand good kids, is the way to move forward on this. And besides, I don't want this city to be defined by an attitude of righteousness and shame.

Unfortunately, the rot goes far deeper than kids just not having any sense of respect for the hard work that goes into making this city such a wonderful place. It starts with the sense of entitlement these young people have grown up with. When you've been raised from infancy on a diet of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing; it is almost the next logical step to smash the window and get that Louis Vuitton bag, because you want it, or stuff a rag down the filler pipe of a police car and torch it, because you can. They live in a world where "getting" is the religion, whether that's getting the goods or getting your ya-ya's out; with plenty of examples (from business leaders to politicians to priests) to say that "how" you get isn't important. They live on the top of a heap where the developing world is there to provide them with cheap holidays and all the cheap consumer products they will ever want to use and eventually discard and throw in the trash.

They trashed this city and unfortunately, this isn't the first time this kind of mindless hooliganism has reared it's head here. We used to have a thing called the Sea Festival that was permanently cancelled because of exactly the same kinds of behaviour.

The big question now, is how do we move forward in a way that we would be proud of and that sets an example to the rest of the world. Again, I do not want this marvellous city to be defined by shame and righteousness, but rather an attitude of, "let's bring our collective smarts and unique west coast energy to bear on the problem at hand and fix it. We have an opportunity here to engage people in civic rebuilding in a way that would do us proud. We can make lemonade from these lemons.

The shame campaigns have started and will out many of the suspects, but a more cohesive approach is needed. This could be achieved by establishing a special prosecutor or court to deal with these cases. People should be encouraged to do the right thing and step forward and accept rersponsibility for their actions. Except in particularly egregious cases or where violence was visited on others, no criminal record would be involved. Instead, extensive community service and restitution would be their punishment ... and rehabilitation. And if you looted something, you return it. The restitution would take the form of fines and these monies would go into the city's coffers, not the province's. The community service would be extensive and ongoing. One of the projects they could be involved in for instance, is rebooting a new Vancouver Sea Festival.

The public and Vancouver Canucks players should also be asked to take part in these projects as well. Working alongside volunteers would remove the chain gang connotations and show these people what it is to be a real citizen of Vancouver. I also think it would hit home in a far more profound and productive way than shaming ever will.

This would also make it easier for parents who were made accomplices when their kids came home with an armful of cosmetics or a new jacket, to do the right thing.

An absolutely essential step is for the police and politicians to speak out on the true nature of that night's hooligans; that they were not anarchists and criminals, but our students and neighbours and kids.

I don't want to drag this night around like the relative of a murder victim devoted to seeing the death penalty imposed on the person who took away their loved one. No, I want my city back; and I want it back better than it was before.

Thank you...and now what?

I want to thank Vancouver Observer for running this piece which was initially a note I posted on Facebook. I never imagined it would be shared as widely as it was there, let alone end up posted here--I mean, let's face it, it's pretty sweary--but I am honoured that it was. Since it was posted I have received many, many messages from people who said what I wrote articulated how they were feeling. I wish everyone had the opportunity to read the heartfelt words from people who felt as angry and heartbroken as I did. But, more importantly, I wish everyone had the opportunity to read the fierce commitments to creativity, engaged citizenship, volunteerism, not-for-profit work and renewed community participation that I got to read. Truly. It's been absolutely overwhelming. This whole 'going viral' thing, while it sounds itchy, has been amazing in the way it has connected with me with so many amazing people who have affirmed me and inspired me. But there's a downside too.

Unless you know me personally, your image of me is probably of that angry (albeit incredibly attractive) potty-mouthed lady who wrote that thing. And while I'm proud that what I wrote resonated with so many people and, hopefully, brought up some points others may not have considered before, I'm actually not that angry of a person. Let me make myself clear: I am not backpedaling. I stand behind what I wrote. It's just, I wrote it at a certain place in time...and now I'm somewhere else.

I don't mean to get all Nostradamus on you here but, I predicted this! To quote Morgan Brayton, "I know that I'll move past this place and get back to helping build the community and the world I want to live in because that's what I am about at the core of my person." So, here I am. The anger has lessened, although it certainly hasn't disappeared. My heart doesn't hurt as much, although it doesn't take much to remind it. I've moved back into my life of creativity and commitment to contributing to my community, my city and beyond. Have you?

I love so much of Gene Logan's comment above, especially the question "...now that we've all got our 'Fuck you's' out, how do we move forward?" Excellent question and one I've been asking myself. While I'm still angry at those who rioted, committing acts of violence and destruction, I'm uncomfortable with posts and comments I've been reading from people refusing to accept apologies offered by rioters who have come forward. The sentiment seems to be that it's not enough and that the apologies are meaningless. Maybe. But where does it leave us if we take that stance? How does that help us move forward?

Anyone whose ever had a therapist (and of course I haven't because I am incredibly well adjusted) has been asked, "Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?" Sometimes, sure, it feels like being right is much more appealing. But, ultimately, it doesn't get us anywhere except a therapist's office, hopefully one who offers fees on a sliding scale. When I read comments denouncing the apologies offered I have to admit to a certain amount of discomfort. Shouldn't we be encouraging personal responsibility, even if we feel it's not enough? Isn't the lack of personal and community responsibility demonstrated by the rioters the reason we were so mad in the first place? One of the main reasons we don't want to accept these apologies seems to be the apparent privilege of the rioters coming forward. Young men from seemingly well-to-do families who have had every opportunity afforded them and...this is how they behave? Really? Life is so hard for you on your water polo team you thought you'd light a cop car on fire? Really? If this were Twitter, I'd insert the #firstworldproblems hashtag here. But when I ask myself, as I have over the past few days, "What is the healthiest way we can move forward?", being staunch in our self-righteous blaming doesn't immediately jump to mind. I thought about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the unbelievable open-heartedness that must have been required to engage in such proceedings. And we can't accept apologies from some obviously messed up kids? Really? Okay, well, once again, #firstworldproblems. Don't you think?

To be crystal clear--I want to see every single jackass involved in the violence and destruction of June 15th identified and charged. I'm still sick over the idea that the work of those who really care about our communities will be harder because of the actions of the rioters. I'm still pissed when I read about West End seniors having asthma attacks because of pepper spray carried in through their apartment windows. I'm still crying when I read about the small business owners who barricaded themselves in a back room of their store while rioters smashed all they had worked to build then lit their car on fire. Those feelings don't go away. But the anger of last week has been joined by hopefulness and consideration this week. I, for one, would like to use the anger I felt--and still feel, although I've stopped swearing quite as much--as a reminder that I care and an inspiration to recommit myself to the things I believe are important.

I don't believe choosing sides is important. I believe building community is important. And I can't think of a more backwards way of doing that than refusing to open our hearts, even the tiniest bit to those who have wronged us. Doesn't mean we're not mad at them. Doesn't mean we don't want them to take responsibility for their actions. Doesn't mean we don't expect them to make amends. Doesn't mean we have to stop swearing about them because, let's face it, that felt pretty good, right? I guess it just means, in the very simplest of terms, we choose being happy over being right. Right?

Now everyone send my therapist a cheque. And thanks for reading.

once again, i agree

Once again, I'm with you Morgan.  Polarisation doesn't help anyone, and is the antithesis of community. And as to where we go from here I think we sure as hell don't walk forward never looking back, nor do we keep our gaze stuck backwards while constantly bemoaning the state of the universe, and 'those people over there' who rioted.  Somehow I think we need to integrate what happened into our psyches/community and into our relations with each other.  It happened.  It sucked (vast understatement, maybe saying it was hearrtbreaking is more accurate).  Some people were outraged, others were sorry, many were shocked, and now, what do we do with all of this.  The only thing I think we can do is keep talking with and keep listening to each other, for me that is the backbone of community.

Still agreeing

Morgan, once again, I agree. I will not stay in anger. We must meet hate and anger with love and patience. We must meet  frustration, fear, resentment, and hurt with compassion and kindness. If we are to teach this riotous generation to be people of honour, we must be honourable enough to offer justice and forgiveness in balance. Maybe that's why all the uplifted spirits at car free day yesterday felt so cleansing. Here's to stitching this community back together.

#Jesus, you write well,

#Jesus, you write well, Morgan.

Nathan Kotylak's reading of his apology, in public, was an example of a society growing up. To ignore that, in a cloud of seething anger, is wrong.

Move, on, forgive, keep an eye out.

 

hepcattin'

...and what about the Nathan Kotylak's of the world? The good kids getting wrapped around that Freudian concept of release and surrender of 'id' to a greater force??....Well said Morgan. Like any perceptably tragic event it will take its path to recovery...the last thing we culture makers can afford to do is lay down now....there are so many elements to this event that this outpouring of sympathetic participants does not surprise me...witnesses who are now activists...will turn this to a better tide....Morgan...keep writing...take a look at what Rex Murphy delivered on CBC on this....

A good start would be to move

A good start would be to move the Canucks to another city, such as Quebec City or Kansas City. I think Vancouver hasn't matured in the right ways to support a pro sports team (Financially? Check. Emotionially? Problems.) and a repeat of this is inevitable. Only one team can win the Stanley Cup per year, so what happens next year if the Canucks fall short again? Remove the problem by removing the team.

Remove the root

A good start would be to move the Canucks to another city, such as Quebec City or Kansas City. I think Vancouver hasn't matured in the right ways to support a pro sports team (Financially? Check. Emotionially? Problems.) and a repeat of this is inevitable.
Only one team can win the Stanley Cup per year, so what happens next year if the Canucks fall short again?
Remove the problem by removing the team.