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Facing down Vancouver's rioters: 'This is my neighbourhood'

People run out of a Hudson Bay Co. store with merchandise during rioting in Vancouver that followed the Canucks? Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Rich Lam/Getty Images

He was threatened, he was insulted - but Dave refused to budge from the smashed window outside Chapters.

He had watched the riot unfold from the safety of his downtown Vancouver apartment. But when rioters broke into the Robson Street bookstore situated two blocks from his home, Dave decided enough was enough.

He ran to the street to try to keep rioters from getting inside. He was challenged to fights but wouldn't back down.

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"This is my neighbourhood and I care about this place. And, to be honest, what are we saying if we just watch everyone destroy our neighbourhood?"

Dave's interview was cut short before more of his story could be told. With windows already smashed and a garbage can on fire, the riot squad moved in, firing canisters that deployed some kind of smoke.

Much will be said about the Lower Mainland residents - not just Vancouverites - who sparked flames, shattered glass and looted stores. But just as they get recognition, perhaps so too should those who put themselves in the dangerous position of trying to stop the rioters.

A scene similar to Dave's unfolded outside a liquor store on Robson, just a short distance from the Vancouver Public Library. Rioters threw rocks through windows to try to get booze - it made no difference that metal gates on the inside of the windows made that virtually impossible.

A group of concerned citizens - two young women, two men - thrust themselves in front of the rioters and implored them to stop. They asked how anyone could do this to such a beautiful city. They received jeers. Garbage was thrown at them.

Before long, a couple of the rioters decided the only way to resolve the situation was to fight. Police fired a flashbang and the crowd dispersed.

Outside The Bay on Georgia Street, a half dozen young men chanted "Show some respect!" after the store's windows were broken, its contents looted. They, too, were threatened. They, too, didn't back down.

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It will be easy in the coming days to paint all Vancouver-area residents with the same brush. But just as some citizens set out only to do bad, some set out only to do good.

Thursday morning, while many of the rioters are surely nursing hangovers, a group of residents will meet in downtown Vancouver to help clean up the city. Thousands of people signed up.

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