Nobody died, give kid a break

Nobody died, give kid a break

Nobody died.

It’s good to keep that in mind following the great Vancouver riot of 2011, which has stained forever Canada’s West Coast city.

Five hundred years from now, people will gaze in shock and awe at the depravity of these times, the wretchedness of our decaying civilization, the …

Give me a break.

People riot around the world, given the right circumstances.

The veneer of civilization always remains thin and when you mix a few ingredients, it doesn’t take long for society to slink back to the law of the jungle.

Let me see if I got this right.

In 1994, after the Vancouver Canucks first lost in the cup final, people rioted on Robson Street.

At the start of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the black-clad idiots did their thing and broke windows on Georgia Street, after which, thanks to an overwhelming police presence, the Games became a downtown love fest.

So back to the most recent riot.

Let’s see, set up some big screen TVs downtown, invite thousands into the city centre to watch their beloved Vancouver Canucks, ensure plenty of vehicles are left around for torching, and don’t forget to leave the newspaper boxes out as well. Mix in alcohol, disappointment, anger and a few dozen instigators, and the sight of police standing idly by, if they were visible at all – and what do you think would happen?

Who knew?

What I don’t get is how 17-year-old Nathan Kotylak from Maple Ridge, caught trying to torch a police car, becomes the scapegoat for the entire event.

Small, online minds want the water polo player banned for five years from the Olympic water polo team.

That’s ridiculous.

Kotylak screwed up, no doubt about it, and has to be accountable.

But he’s already, appeared on camera, faced the mob and apologized, his parents by his side.

How many others have done that? Everyone screws up. Some get caught. Some don’t.

You could argue he wouldn’t have done that if the camera hadn’t caught him.

Fair enough.

But there’s no need to wreck his life by banning him from pursuing his Olympic dreams.

Try as he might, his actions didn’t set the police car on fire – it was about half a dozen dingbats who actually knew how to do that.

And nobody died. And except for the merchants, all’s well that ends well.

Premier Christy Clark says she wants the instigators of the riot to see the inside of a jail cell.

What a bunch of hot air.

But if she wants to get tough on crime, apply those efforts equally. If the Kelowna officer accused of kicking a man in the face is convicted, he should see the inside of a jail cell.

What about the 2005 fatal, in-custody police shooting of a kid in the back of the head (after he was arrested for holding an open beer can)?

If the officers facing breach of trust and obstruction of justice charges in the investigation of the Surrey Six murders are convicted, shouldn’t they see the inside of a jail cell?

What about the fabulous four who killed a confused immigrant at Vancouver International Airport? Will they see the inside of a jail cell?

How about the West Van officer, who while dead drunk, beat the living tar out of an immigrant in downtown Vancouver? Will he see the inside of a jail cell?

So do you put a lout in jail for breaking a window?

We all know, the majority of police take it on the chin daily and say nary a word as they serve the public.

But if you want to get tough on crime, also get tough on police when they screw up.

Kotylak did a stupid thing that could have had serious consequences – but nobody died.

He should pay his dues, be reinstated to the junior national the water polo team and compete in the Olympics. Maybe he could light the Olympic torch or something.

As for the cyber bullies, back off and give the kid a break.

Phil Melnychuk is a reporter for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.