Meera Nair

“the looters must have been illiterate”

In Posts on June 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Today, Vancouver woke up to shame and anger that far eclipsed the let down of yesterday’s Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins. The riot, started by hooligans, turned into madness and a disgraceful display of the power of the mob. Rick Cluff of CBC’s Early Edition noted that the crowd viciously escalated the destruction by chanting “94, 94, 94…”; a reference to the riot following Vancouver’s last unsuccessful effort to win Lord Stanley’s trophy.

Media reports abound; too many to link to here. Questions are being asked — could the police have done more, was it wise to host a public celebration on the streets, were the instigators actual hockey fans? Analytical perspectives are sure to follow — is this an outcome of the overt sensationalism of violence, is it a consequence of “softness on crime”, what role did social media, in particular, play? Did Twitter help cultivate the mob; will Facebook now be a boon to identifying the culprits? But perhaps the most insightful observation came from Early Edition reporter Steve Lus. He described the looting; of department store windows being smashed and merchandise stolen. But, while Chapters did not escape the broken windows, not a single book was taken. “The looters must have been illiterate,” mused Lus.

It is seventeen years since the last Stanley-related riot. Theoretically, yesterday’s hooligans were then pre-schoolers. In their ensuing childhood and teenage years how much, or little, did any of them read? When all the dust has settled and (hopefully) all those guilty of criminal behaviour have been held accountable, that question would make for an interesting study.

In the meantime, the Vancouver Board of Trade has some literature that touches on this area; Kids ‘N Crime: Economic Aspects of the Development and Prevention of Criminality among Children and Youth addresses the correlation between crime and lack of investment in early childhood life.

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