Like many people in Canada and The United States I watched in disappointment last week as the Vancouver Canucks, the NHL’s top ranked team, lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins 4-0 in Vancouver. It was up in the air all series but my money was on the Canucks. Even so Boston played better and deserved the win they fought hard for. Good on them.
Shortly after the loss, a handful of the tens of thousands of fans decided to take advantage of the crowd and confusion and start vandalizing store fronts, stealing, rioting, and doing what useless punks/morons/idiots usually do. In the past there’d be the odd photographer or photojournalist in the crowd bravely shooting away hoping not to get mugged or beaten or even worse – have they’re gear smashed as they covered people in the act of committing crimes. But not this time.
People with cameras were everywhere. It looked like an Avril Lavigne concert. On some of the videos posted to various video sharing web sites you can see crowds of snappers following the hoodlums around as they smashed glass and robbed store fronts. People were even posing for cameras as they vandalized property. It’s interesting no one seemed to mind they were being photographed. Usually it can be a little hairy pointing a camera at some goons face and snap away in situations like that but by the looks of it no one cared at all. Are people getting so used to seeing cellphones and digital cameras in large crowds they’re being tuned out as if they were fashion accessories?
What happened next should have been apparent to those being recorded. People went home and started posting photos and videos of the rioting on Facebook and YouTube. And with that, as of today, the police have arrested more then a hundred suspects and are dealing with more then 1,800 tips from the public after appealing for photos and videos. Rioters who were photographed breaking the law should brace for a visit from police, said Toronto Police Services Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux. “In my opinion, they’ll get caught,” he told CBC News. One kids parents turned him in after seeing him on the news.
I can’t help but think a page has turned on rioting. Will people be a little more aware that the chances of them being recorded are extremely high in a cellphone armed crowd and that getting caught is a forgone conclusion? Not to mention everyone you know is going to see you committing petty crimes and senseless acts of vandalism.
So, Facebook as a crime fighting tool. The first group up was following the rioting was Vancouver Riot Pics: Post Your Photos. I’m willing to bet the police have been all over this one.
Here’s an example from Facebook:
And here is the accompanying video evidence:
Police swamped with evidence – Vancouver police say they have over a million photos and 1,000 hours of evidence to sift through. And although some of the rioters have come forward to police, Crown Counsel says no charges have been laid.