City police take aim at Vancouver's media saying they helped "incite" Robertson's Riot
It likely wasn't a date you noted on your calendar, but earlier this week we surpassed the 100 day mark since Robertsons' Riot. There are still no charges laid against any of the culprits, nor have any politicians stepped up to the plate and accepted responsibility for the poor planning of Mayor Gregor's Fan Zone.
Just when you thought the issue of Robertson's Riot was fading from the news cycle, the Vancouver Police Department fanned the flames this week. Angry over what they see as unfair coverage, the VPD decided to distribute a blistering attack against Vancouver's media.
They issued a media release which points the finger right at local journalists for helping to "incite" Robertson's Riot. Here is an excerpt:
We are concerned about stories created that choose to inflame the rhetoric about the riot based on wrong information, as we were originally concerned by stories and reporters who beat the drum most loudly inciting crowds to gather in the first place.
The question I have is whether or not the Chair of the Police Board and Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson supports the VPD's statement? Was he even briefed about it prior to it being distributed to the media?
Due to the fact Mayor Gregor appears to be in a political witness protection program, we're likely never hear to from him regarding what he thinks of the VPD's attack. However a tweet from councillor Geoff Meggs, the Mayor's right hand man, sheds a bit of light on what His Worship might be thinking. Meggs states:
@CityCaucus @MayorGregor media code of conduct proposal was least-reported recommendation of Furlong-Keefe. Also proposed after '94 riot.
Sure doesn't sound like Meggs and Vision Vancouver are distancing themselves from the VPD's statement. Quite the contrary. They seem a bit choked that it took so long for the media to finally begin wearing this one.
I must say it's a bit rich for Mayor Gregor to invite 150,000 people downtown without a proper plan, then blame the media for "inciting" the riot. But what I'd like to know is why the Mayor and the VPD aren't providing any concrete examples of specific stories they believe helped fuel Robertson's Riot? If they believe media outlets like Global TV and CKNW helped to incite a riot at the CBC sponsored Fan Zone, then why not show us the evidence?
CKNW radio was all over this story today as they wanted to find out more about just exactly who authorized that statement to be issued to the media. Here is what they posted online (it also includes a very interesting 49 second audio clip with the Chief):
Two days after an unattributed Vancouver Police Department memo accused un-named reporters of inciting Stanley Cup rioters, no one on the force is ready to take responsibility for it. Inspector Dean Robinson says talk to the Chief.
"I may as well refer you to the Chief's office, that's who has been doing all the business."
But the boss, Chief Jim Chu, had neither time, nor answers when asked by CKNW reporter James Lewis.
Despite repeated questions, Chu wouldn't say whether he had authorized the memo.
"The statement is written, and it's posted on our website, there's many versions of statements... sometimes I see them, sometimes I don't."
Two days after the riot, the chief told reporters his department was "fully transparent."
First the Mayor blamed a small group of "hooligans and thugs" for causing Robertson's Riot. Then he said it wasn't just the City's fault, but TransLink and the Province were also to blame. Incredibly, a few weeks ago he even had the audacity to blame the lone opposition NPA councillor Suzanne Anton for her role is fueling the mayhem on June 15th. (Update: one of our commentors reminded us that Gregor also blamed the NHL for the riot. Thanks George).
Now we find out that part of the PR strategy is to blame the media who reported about the Mayor's big frat party that went sideways.
When will Robertson understand that the public is still waiting for him to take some (not all) of the responsibility for what happened when Vancouver took a $1 billion dollar hit to its international reputation. To date he's done just a lot of finger pointing...and now Vancouver's media are his latest target of choice.
We're only a few weeks away from the intense heat of the 2011 civic election. Something tells me that despite my earlier predictions, the Robertson's Riot story may well remain an issue for some time to come.