The Vancouver Hockey Riot of 2011
The riot pointed out, one more time, the incompetence and stupidity of both our leaders and the media. Oh, such moaning! “The riot was totally unexpected.” What dolts, you put a hundred thousand adrenaline charged, boozed up people in one spot and at least some of them will think it funny to flip over a car or toss a bottle through a window. And that's how it starts. The riot was virtually inevitable, and the civic leaders don't want to take responsibility for it.
The CBC hit a new low. They tried to smear the Black Bloc as somehow initiating the riot, since a number of the rioters wisely hid their faces from the cameras. But blockers smash windows to make a political statement and not for the thrill of doing so. Videos show rioters as ordinary suburban working class youth and not counter culturals or the “goons and thugs” so beloved of the media as rationalizations. (I am pleased that a number of commentators in the CBC comments section noted how mildly the cops treated the rioters compared with the G20 brutality against non-violent demonstrators.)
Nor did the rioters seem a “tiny minority”. Though the active smashers may well have been, they were surrounded by a crowd of laughing, smiling youth egging them on, posing for pictures against the flames, sharing looted goods, more of a carnival atmosphere than a war zone.
The riot was not in the least political in terms of the consciousness of the participants. None of them had a political idea in their heads. Yet in one sense it was political. These youth have no future and somehow know that. Future means working in Walmart. Future means never being able to afford a dwelling in the Vancouver area even if they scored a half-way decent job. .Even if they go to university, they end up $50,000 in debt and the right to work part-time at Starbucks. Those with the slightest grain of consciousness know we are about to be royally screwed by climate change and the corporatist policies of the government.
These kids come from the suburbs, that ultimate anti-community. They belong to no community and have nothing to defend, so they feel detached enough to smash up what does exist.
They hate the police. This is understandable as youth are targeted by them, due to the fact that the majority of crimes are committed by males under age 30 and the police are used to enforce a morality that youth constantly challenge. Part of being young is loud music, beer and pot all of which brings the heat.
Now as they go about smashing and looting, they are not thinking these thoughts, seeing themselves as just having some wild fun. But their alienation lies beneath the surface as a hidden impetus. People who are happy with their lot in life do not smash things up.
One point cannot be stressed enough. Don't be surprised that given an opportunity to riot, youth will take it. What ought to surprise you is they don't riot all the time.
This riot should be a lesson for the criminals who rule over us. Working class youth have done vastly more damage than conscious militant activists. If the inchoate anger of the masses becomes conscious and politicized the bosses are in deep trouble.