By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 5, 2012 - 0 Comments
Indeed, this is one of the key difficulties of legislating in this area. Pre-emptive arrests, especially on the basis of dress, are constitutionally problematic, and law enforcement already has the legislative tools to deal with masked rioters once a riot is underway. As a result, the best way forward for parliamentarians is simply to support police efforts to develop better training methods and better crowd control techniques, to improve communication with revellers and demonstrators, to share best practices, and to increase the number of qualified officers to deal with large public gatherings.
Such an approach is less likely to achieve headlines, but far more likely to achieve results. Once the real bill is unmasked there remains no evidence that, had this legislation been on the books last year, the Vancouver riots would not have occurred, that they would have been policed differently, or that anyone would be more severely punished for participating.
Dylan Reid reviews the ancient history of legislators attempting to limit the ability of people to wear masks.
Modern authorities should take a page from this sixteenth-century experience and learn to distinguish between harmless and dangerous uses of masks. The New York anti-mask law did introduce an exception for parties in the 1970s. And the French law against covering the face also had to include a series of exceptions, including wearing them for Carnival. But these laws still don’t distinguish between wearing a mask for peaceful protest and wearing one for rioting. The resurgence of this long-forgotten issue reminds us that covering the face in public carries power—to set oneself apart from society or to identify oneself as part of a group, to break free of social rules or protest against authority. After all, even children carry an implicit threat when they walk the streets in disguise at the end of October, tricks if there are no treats—but we have yet to abolish Hallowe’en.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 12:16 PM - 15 Comments
As was widely reported following the Vancouver hockey riots, social media was used to crowdsource a vigilante effort to identify the jerks who tore up their own city. Sites like Identifyrioters.com were launched to post pictures of the mayhem. They encourage users to click an “I know who this is!” button to link a pic to a person. Allegations are not posted publicly. They’re forwarded to the cops, who can follow up and see if the names fit the pics. Facebook also hosted similar armchair vigilante efforts, and video of the carnage was posted and scrutinized several sites. The online exposure was such that some rioters turned themselves in after finding their douchebaggery digitally documented. Continue…
By Randy Kim - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 8:35 AM - 0 Comments
The B.C. premier promised that rioters will be brought to justice. But that won’t happen.
In the wake of Vancouver’s riots, B.C.’s populist Premier Christy Clark was quick to read the public pulse. “We will hold you responsible,” she said the morning after the mayhem. “You will not be able to hide behind your hoodie or your bandana.” A special team of experienced prosecutors, she said, would work with police to ensure swift, severe punishments for rioters—jail time, she made clear, sounding more like an Old West sheriff. The public roared its approval. The riots touched a raw nerve in Vancouver, where 19 of every 20 residents want the troublemakers prosecuted to the full extent of the law, according to a new poll by Angus Reid.
The reality of prosecuting the mess, however, will soon sink in. The premier is “out of touch with how our courts are operating,” Vancouver criminal defense lawyer Jason Tarnów tells Maclean’s. There is “no way” riot cases will get preferential treatment just because politicians are asking for it; that would be unconstitutional. Rioters will be processed by a justice system hobbled by judge, sheriff and prosecutorial shortages and a legal-aid system that no longer meets even basic needs, according to a recent report. “Justice will not be swift,” adds criminologist Robert Gordon, of Simon Fraser University. “This will be a long, drawn-out process.”
A week before the riot in fact, five Vancouver trials were ordered shut down after judges deemed courtrooms unsafe to proceed due to a shortage of sheriffs. More than 2,000 criminal cases, meanwhile, are at risk of being quashed over delays. In the past year, a range of cases, from drunk driving to drug dealing have been tossed because it took up to two years to get to trial. “It takes 12 to 18 months to get a single-day trial in Vancouver right now,” says criminal lawyer Michael Shapray. “What will happen if police suddenly lay 300 criminal charges? How are you going to find the judges, sheriffs and prosecutors for this?” In an eye-opening report released last fall, the provincial court warned that 17 new judges must be hired just to bring B.C. back to 2005 levels and slow the backlog. Instead, B.C.’s spring budget approved cuts totalling $14.5 million to the judiciary, court services and prosecution services. (In the wake of the riots, funding for sheriffs was quietly restored.)
By Nancy Macdonald - Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 1:36 PM - 0 Comments
Robert Snelgrove on what prompted his actions, how sorry he is, and what it’s like to be shamed by an Internet mob
During the Vancouver riot, Coquitlam, B.C. native Robert Snelgrove was caught on camera walking out of
The BaySears carrying stolen cosmetics. The next day, he turned himself into police. Snelgrove, 24, a cell phone salesman, has been suspended without pay from his job and may be fired. Below, he tells Maclean’s what prompted his actions, how sorry he is, and what it’s like to be shamed by an Internet mob.
Q: Tell me about Game 7. How did you end up downtown?
A: I’m not really a sports fan. I got involved because all my friends started watching the games. I live on Seymour at Robson, right above Granville Street, and I got caught up in the whole excitement of the city. It was really, really exciting. I was watching Game 7 at a friend’s condo in Coal Harbour.
A: I had heard about it briefly on the news. Then, walking home, I found myself in the middle of it. It was like nothing I’d ever seen in my life before—like WWIII.
Q: At what point did you decide to jump in?
A: I don’t have a criminal record. I’ve never stolen anything in my life. I was standing outside The Bay, watching people breaking windows, smashing things, and lighting things on fire. I didn’t do that at all. When I saw multiple people break the window and walking out with stuff, I got caught up in it… It was a spur of the moment thing. Normally I would never think like that. I’m not trying to defend it, but it was one of those things—everyone’s doing it, so I might as well try it. I was quite intoxicated. I wasn’t in the best state of mind. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen and Jason Kirby - Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 12 Comments
Violence turns the locals against anti-Olympic protesters
Vancouver, a visiting writer once remarked, “can dress up and act quite sophisticated when she wants.” Never has the city looked as chic as it did last week, with streets festooned in the colours of an Olympic celebration and lineups for star-studded parties winding around its city blocks. But when masked protesters descended on the downtown core on the first day of competition—smashing windows and spray-painting cars—Vancouver flashed another side of her multi-faceted personality: one that likes to drop the gloves.
No sooner had the black-clad demonstrators broken windows at the Bay department store and TD Tower than average folks began abandoning the safety of hotel rooms and waterfront condos to defend the city’s honour. “These people are trying to cause damage to Vancouver,” said 29-year-old Jon Reisenger, a Canadian who lives in Spokane, Wash. “The less of this mess the news media can see, the better it is for Vancouver.” Reisenger, who came to the Olympics as part of an organization that provides product discounts for athletes, spent his morning righting the newspaper and mailboxes the protesters had overturned and dragged into the street. At times, he verbally sparred with the marchers, laughing off their threats to do him harm.
One group of angry residents managed to isolate a male demonstrator who had a green bandana over his face. “I came out here and I did good,” he said defiantly. “And I’m going to go home tonight and sleep like a baby.” “Why don’t you take off that mask if you’re so damned proud?” someone shouted back. And with that, the protester stormed away.
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, August 11, 2008 at 1:38 PM - 0 Comments
Usually, we riot after winning the Stanley Cup. Or, ever since the cup has…
Usually, we riot after winning the Stanley Cup. Or, ever since the cup has made itself scarce in these parts, we riot after winning a first round series. It’s a bit of an embarrassment, sure, but at least it is easy for everyone to blame the participants. You’re rioting. After a hockey game. It’s akin to complaining about the help, or starting a fight after an orgy.
It was an ostensibly different story in Montreal North this weekend, though. Hundreds of rioters took to the streets Sunday night, most of whom were madder than hell at the shooting of Fredy Villanueva, an unarmed 18-year-old who was hanging out with his brother near the Henri-Bourassa arena north of the city on last Saturday. The ‘other’ rioters, as other rioters tend to do, took advantage of this anger to steal sneakers and t-shirts. One police officer was shot and injured. A fire station was vandalized. Several journalists were assaulted, including La Presse‘s Robert Skinner, who had his equipment stolen. And for what?