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The Vancouver Riot Kiss is a photoshop meme based on a news photograph of a couple kissing on the ground during the Vancouver street riots that erupted after the final round of the Stanley Cup on June 15th, 2011.
The 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot took place on Wednesday June 15th after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. During the riots, a photo of a couple kissing on the ground with several riot police in the frame was taken by photographer Richard Lam for Getty Images.
It was suggested that the photo was actually staged when an image taken from above the scene was posted to Vancouver based journalist Douglas Haddow’s personal Tumblr. In the shot, several people are seen hovering over the couple.
Richard Lam insisted that it was authentic in a statement to Esquire:
“I noticed in the space behind the line of police that two people were laying in the street with the riot police and a raging fire just beyond them. I knew I had captured a “moment” when I snapped the still forms against the backdrop of such chaos but it wasn’t until later when I returned to the rink to file my photos that my editor pointed out that the two people were not hurt, but kissing.”
Lam also refuted the overhead photo, stating that it did not capture was the mounted police force, tear gas, and pepper spray happening 20 feet outside of the shot. According to The Gothamist, the photo was not staged, but it wasn’t a kiss either. It was a man trying to help up a woman who fell down.
According to witnesses, what you’re seeing here is actually the aftermath of a bad fall. And if you look at the photos in that context, it appears that the young man in the photo is trying to help the woman, not make out on the street before riot police could put up the cockblock.
A video was posted showing the context of the photo (starts at 0:26):
Couple’s Identity Revealed
The couple was identified as Australian Scott Jones and Vancouver resident Alexandra Thomas. The Toronto Star interviewed Scott’s father Brett who recounted the story on June 17th, 2011:
“She had actually been injured,” Brett Jones told the Star Friday morning from his home in Perth, Australia. “She had been knocked down by a shield” from the riot police. “He lay down next to her to comfort her. She was crying and he just kissed her to calm her down.”Even as a young boy, said Brett Jones, Scott demonstrated his “gentle side for other people. I’m not surprised he would comfort Alex.”
Today Show Interview
On June 20th, 2011, Scott and Alexandra appeared on The Today Show and explained that Alexandra was only kissed briefly in order to comfort her after being knocked down by riot police. A video was played showing riot police beating them to the ground with their shields immediately before the photo was taken. They claimed they were not participating in the riot, and were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Search queries for “vancouver riot kiss” spiked in June 2011 and significantly dropped off the next month.
The Gothamist – Video: Vancouver “Riot Kiss” Wasn’t Staged, Wasn’t A Kiss
Yahoo! Sports – Video: Vancouver riot kissing couple tells their amazing tale
The Atlantic Wire – Vancouver Riot Kiss Photographer Doubts It Was Staged
Huffington Post – Vancouver Riots 2011: Couple Kisses During Chaos (PHOTO)