Judges' actions in riot cases don't match their words 0
Timothy Lau looted the Bay, among other downtown Vancouver businesses, during the 2011 Stanley Cup riot. He was sentenced Monday to four months in prison. (FILE PHOTO)
A year and a half ago, this city was horrified at the actions of a relative few following the Vancouver Canucks heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. In the wake of the riot, there were howls of outrage from all and sundry, including Premier Christy Clark who said she wanted the core rioters locked up. “The days of a slap on the wrist for this kind of behaviour are gone … Consequences are necessary if we want to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Clark said after the riot.
In the few months following the riot, the howls of outrage continued albeit at this point more directly at the Vancouver police who were harshly criticized for not bringing offenders to court quicker.
The police took it and quietly and methodically did their job. To date, nearly 300 people have been identified and have been charged — or charges are pending as the investigation continues and police pore over hundreds of thousands of images.
But I wonder where the outrage is as one by one, the rioters are dealt with by the courts and given little more than a wrist slap by the system even as the sentencing judges condemn their actions in the harshest of terms from the bench.
Just this week yet another rioter, Richard Grant MacMillan, 27, was sentenced for his role in the riot to six months to be served in the community, with the conditions he not go to Starbucks, whose windows he smashed ostensibly for their “corporate greed,” and that he refrain from drugs and alcohol. He said to police after he was arrested, “wow, like corporations are evil. F--- the corporations.”
He did not address the court and even demonstrated the lack of respect he has for the system by showing up late to hear his sentence.
Just a day earlier, Timothy Kwong, who was 29 at the time of the riot and identified as one of the instigators in the early going, was sentenced to an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community for his role in setting fire to a truck during the riot.
The longest sentence to date was 17 months to Ryan Dickenson for overturning police cars.
One by one, the presiding judges have expressed their revulsion at the actions of the rioters and their need to demonstrate deterrence with their sentences.
But seriously, being grounded by the courts and told to be a good boy for a period of six to 18 months is hardly deterrence.
Despite the clarion call from the Premier at the time, the judges’ actions have not matched their words.