The year Canadians took back justice
To date, only eight alleged Stanley Cup hockey rioters have made a first appearance in provincial court, and none has been convicted of any crime.
For a handful of others, however, justice came swiftly. They were the ones caught damaging and stealing property by camera-toting bystanders. Their images and identities were posted on public post-riot websites created overnight by computer-savvy citizens. They were publicly shamed. Most of the men and women who found themselves outed then turned to social media such as Facebook to offer apologies; these seemed to satisfy most onlookers. Anger was then directed at others less contrite.
The online crusades set a worrisome precedent, according to some legal analysts. “The mob mentality has moved into cyberspace for the first time,” University of British Columbia criminologist Christopher Schneider said. But others saw the emergence of a useful, legitimate tool. After the riots in “genteel Vancouver” and London, England, this summer, New York-based forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner pointed out that “publicizing the identities of looters amid a community rejection of looting humiliates the perpetrator. It creates a powerful disincentive where courts and justice cannot.”
Others promote more robust action. In Chilliwack, B.C., a group of costumed teenagers made a number of attempts this year to expose alleged Internet predators by luring them into public spaces on the premise of meeting underage girls. When the alleged predators showed up for their arranged “dates,” the masked crusaders pounced, shooting video of the alarmed suspects and peppering them with questions meant to humiliate.