FACE TO FACE: Did VPD do its job well during the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver?
My reactionary colleague often suggests my response to political crises is to sit around singing "Kumbaya" (conservatives consider this their cleverest and most incisive political insult).
This week, I confess that I am currently sitting around singing "Kumbaya" with Police Chief Jim Chu and the Vancouver Police Department in admiration of the department's disciplined and restrained handling of last week's Stanley Cup riot.
The riot was bad, a blight on Vancouver's reputation. We are all embarrassed and angry.
Because of Chief Chu and a disciplined police response, however, this time our anger is correctly focused on the rioters instead of the police. There are no stories of police brutality, no interviews with innocent bystanders bleeding or hobbled by over-zealous cops.
This was not a small riot. It wasn't "just a few troublemakers." It was a hundred thousand young people - an irresistible force. Had the police given this mob any focus for their anger, rioting could have lasted days. Using social media, rioters would have quickly reinforced and overrun any site of aggressive police action.
But the police would not be provoked. Their discipline was remarkable; dare I say, heroic. The restrained police response wasn't because they were undermanned or ill-prepared or naive, or led by "Kumbaya"-singing lefties. It was their plan, a strategy that works, and it worked that awful night.
The police acted as one acts when dealing with a person having a seizure: protect them from injury, remove things that could hurt them, don't hold them down or restrain them. It will pass.
The riot did pass. In three hours. It often takes two hours just to clear BC Place or Roger's Arena, even without the fascination of a riot.
Regardless of what my go-ahead-make-my-day colleague says, this riot was not caused by, allowed or exacerbated by police inaction or unpreparedness.
The malpractice responsible for this kind of behaviour took place in myriad Metro Vancouver homes long before the VPD had to respond to the developmental distemper of tens of thousands of young people in downtown Vancouver.
Bravo, Chief Chu. You got it right this time. Don't let the cowboy critics change your tactics.
And we'll be looking for you and some good police baritones the next time all we lefties sit around singing "Kumbaya."
Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.