Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vancouver Sun

As city officials and police attempt to recover from the worst riot Vancouver has seen since 1994, helpful citizens are armed with a new tool this time around: social media.

Over 13,000 people have joined a Facebook event called "Post-Riot Clean-up - Let's Help Vancouver," to aid in clean-up efforts across downtown Vancouver this morning.

"Once the embarrassing rioting has ended in Vancouver let's all show the world what Vancouver is really about by helping rebuild and clean up so it is better than it was before," the event page says.

Citizens armed with plastic bags and brooms were spotted sweeping broken glass on Granville Street this morning.

The online outcry against the riot began within minutes of the first fire breaking out outside the Canada Post building on Georgia Street, around 7:45 p.m.

Witnesses flooded Twitter and Facebook with messages about the ensuing havoc. Photos and videos of perpetrators appeared in real-time on Tumblr, Flicker and other photo blogging sites.

Vancouver police tweeted that anyone with photos or video of people committing criminal acts hold on to them for evidence purposes. Police will provide more information on how to submit photos soon.

A Facebook page called "Vancouver Riot Pics: Post Your Photos," has been "liked" by 33,000 people and gotten more than 60,000 comments. Hundreds of photos have already been collected.

Many photos are simply people posing for snapshots on top of flipped cars and in front of violent mayhem. However, some pictures clearly show individuals setting fires, smashing property and even one inserting a Molotov cocktail into a police car's gas tank.

Their faces are clearly identifiable, and many are committing criminal acts in broad daylight.

Many people took screen captures of Facebook status updates made by smug hooligans, including one who bragged he "punched a f---en pig in head with riot gear on knocked him to the ground" and "burnt some smart cars."
A friend quickly commented to warn him the status could be used as evidence.

Vancouver police also requested evidence from citizens in 1994, following the riot that ensued when the New York Rangers beat the Canucks in the Stanley Cup final.
At that time, police set up kiosks in public areas, and asked for help identifying anonymous people in photos.

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