OK, I have a confession to make. I’m a fair weather hockey fan. I only watch when it gets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year was especially fun to be a fan, as our local (as in about 70 miles north) Vancouver Canucks made it to the finals. The games were exciting, but the aftermath was even more riveting. Areas of downtown Vancouver erupted, with drunk rioters and others hell bent on causing mayhem.
Live video of rioters and bystanders using their cell phones to document police actions prompted tweets speculating these folks were making things worse for the police as they tried to take back the streets. I saw something different, knowing that for every rioter waiting to catch the police doing something wrong, others were gathering evidence of rioters committing crimes. From what I can tell, Vancouver Police and Fire crews showed great restraint in dealing with the mobs.
Apparently there is no restraint in the social media fallout from Vancouver residents. Within hours after the last rioters drug hung over butts home, embarrassed and ticked off Vancouverites plastered social media sites with video and pictures of alleged rioters, looters, etc… Vancouver PD did their best to identify a process for submitting evidence for follow up.
But, as we know, there is no “controlling” the SM crowd. One of my FB friends posted a link to a FB page asking folks to identify the person in a set of photographs who is shown reportedly assaulted a Vancouver firefighter. I don’t know if they found him yet, but given the clarity of the photos I can’t imagine he is still anonymous. As we are quickly learning, public anonymity may be a thing of the past. For some who got caught up in the mob mentality that night, the fallout has been swift and scary. This morning London Drug announced it identified dozens of looters and vandals who destroyed their store, and will be filing civil lawsuits to recover their losses. Good for them!
Police have used always used video and photo evidence to identify and prosecute rioters. But, they have done so using deliberative methods and due process. London Drug is doing the same. But, in today’s “Wild West” SM environment, indignation and embarrassment of the masses is likely having unintended consequences.
An interesting SM experiment is underway in Vancouver. It will be interesting to see how this impromptu vigilante justice crowd sourcing effort plays out in the long run. Losing the Stanley Cup was sad. Ruining the reputation of potentially innocent folks on a global scale is tragic. Let’s hope crowd wisdom prevails.