rioters of the year

The Hab Spring: The crowd gathers outside Montreal’s Forum on the night of the Richard Riot, March 17, 1955. (Image: Montreal Star / Library and Archives Canada / PA-194043)

Time magazine has named Vancouver’s Stanley Cup rioters as their Person of the Year for 2011, a considerable honour that comes as a bit of surprise: not even the crowds that ran amok down Robson and Granville on the night of June 15 can have looked for this. And on the very same day — coincidentally? — that the first of the (alleged) riotistas appeared in court in Vancouver.

It’s a shared honour: that’s worth saying. The editors at Time didn’t single out Vancouver’s dissidents in recognizing the universal Protester for the big prize — or indeed really mention them at all. Which is totally understandable, given the sheer numbers involved, globally. What do they say? Here: “Protests have now occurred in countries whose populations total at least 3 billion people.” And, after all, the masses in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya put their lives on their line when they took to the streets, and in doing so brought real change to their countries. In Syria the people continue to risk their lives as they stand up to the brutality of a regime whose lies and cruelty will soon bring it tumbling down. Throw in the crowds in Greece and Russia, and the global effort to Occupy Everywhere and … it’s not as if Time has room in its pages to mention every last upriser who stood up to be counted in a Canucks’ sweater and cried, out loud, with one voice, for all the world to hear, Chara sucks. As Time says, “The root of the word democracy is demos, ‘the people,’ and the meaning of democracy is ‘the people rule.’” In Vancouver as in Cairo and Benghazi, the people did, if only for that one night, on which Luongo and the Sedins didn’t.