Public shaming: Crimestoppers writ large

Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot has spawned a computer frenzy engaging dozens of people bent on bringing the rioters to justice. Photographs of rioters along with their names and in some cases their addresses and phone numbers are being posted on Facebook and emailed directly to police.

Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot has spawned a computer frenzy engaging dozens of people bent on bringing the rioters to justice. Photographs of rioters along with their names and in some cases their addresses and phone numbers are being posted on Facebook and emailed directly to police.

An Angus Reid Public Opinion poll found that 96 per cent of British Columbians and 95 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents hope for stiff prosecution of the rioters. Public shaming using social media is a spontaneous response.

The public wouldn’t be so united in shaming these dimwits through social media if the justice system did its job, swiftly and with meaningful consequences. Instead, in the words of one poster, the public expects

1- Police/courts will end up giving them a slap on the hand.

2- No restitution will be required, so, after the rioters pay a nominal fine, tax payers will be on the hook for all the cleanup, repair costs, and replacing 15 police cruisers.

3- Arrested rioters will say they’re sorry in order to get off.

4- Parents of the teen rioters will blame everyone else (society, the police, alcohol, the education system, music, bed bugs) for their children’s behaviour. Of course it CAN’T be the parents’ fault who raised their kids to be thugs and let them out to go riot.

I don’t expect to identify any of the rioters, but it’s mesmerizing  to watch wholesale stupidity in action. Often the perpetrators gloated, posting photos of themselves that will serve as evidence, their excited grins inches in front of cameras. So it’s infuriating when later “alleged” perpetrators have the gall to tearfully explain that what they were photographed doing does not truly show who they are. “I just got caught up in it … I’m not normally that kind of person.”

A young woman who was photographed scooping up stolen property after rioters broke into a store posted, “I was going along with the crowd…and maybe took some things that weren’t mine.” Maybe???!

Instead of the polo-playing teen apologizing for holding a lighted match to a rag as he stuffed it into a police car’s gas tank, his father, a general surgeon, should donate $50,000 to replace the cruiser.

They expect us to believe their behaviour was an aberration fueled by the hype of the mob? How come thousands of others weren’t fueled by the mob? Doesn’t that suggest these perpetrators have a flaw in their upbringing?

One thing is clear: if you attend one of these crowd-gatherings intent on committing mayhem, don’t wear distinctive clothing like orange Nikes, yellow tee shirts that stand out like a bumble bee among ants, or with slogans or logos of the company you work for.  And don’t hoist a skateboard in one hand while giving the finger to cameras.

(Am I alone in thinking jocks feel they are more above the law than others?)

Girls should avoid spaghetti straps that etch clearly against their bare shoulders as they heave on a car. Don’t bandage a cut with a green cloth. And — in case you might look prepared to do wrong — don’t take along a molotov cocktail, a hammer, or a face-covering bandana.

The most shocking revelation since this riot is Vancouver city manager Penny Bellam’s admission she didn’t read the investigator’s report following the 1994 riot. Why not? Bellam says, “If I had to read every single report that was behind a lot of business we do, I would never see the light of day.”

One of the investigator’s 100 recommendations — ignored by the city — was that no cars should be allowed to park in the downtown area. Some 100 private cars were damaged during the riot, some a total write off.

Mayor Robertson is against public shaming of these rioters. He says it borders vigilantism. I call it Crimestoppers’ tips writ large.

Rioters losing their jobs will be sweet justice.

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