The rioting in Vancouver after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the playoffs was disgraceful. Now that the smoke has cleared, however, the following photograph has attracted a lot of positive (and some negative) attention, with many hoping that it wasn’t staged but was a true candid shot, as the photographer, Richard Lam of Getty Images, has claimed:
According to a report by Brad Frenette published on the Vancouver Sun Web site on June 17, 2011 5:46 AM, someone named “William” wrote to the paper to describe what he witnessed:
I was on the top floor of a parkade on Seymour, the couple [who have now been identified as Canadian Alexandra Thomas and her Australian boyfriend Scott Jones] was right outside of the parkade on the street in front of me. What happen was the police line rushed the crowd and this couple trying to stay together couldn’t react in time and were run over by 2 riot police officers. The girl who was knocked over landed head first on the pavement with her boyfriend landed partially on top of her. She was in visible pain, crying, but the 2 officers gave them a parting shove and moved on. By standers went to go make sure she was ok. I understand that the front line police have to control the crowd but it is a bit ridiculous that they couldn’t have other officers or paramedics behind the line to help anyone who is hurt.
If William’s account is accurate, then what we have here is neither the artful documentation of a provocative piece of street theatre nor a lurid snapshot of a couple who were “too aroused to seek privacy” (as one idiot going by the name “anon252708922” put it on the Vancouver Sun site), but rather the spontaneous and touching photographic record of one human being taking the time to comfort another who has been harmed, even while they are in the midst of real danger — although, of course, it is the additional, fortuitous frisson of eroticism conveyed by the woman’s bare skin that has given the image legs, so to speak.
Brett Jones [Scott’s father] said the couple had been at the NHL final game, and after the frenzy following the loss spilled into the street, the two were caught in the violence.
“They were between the riot police and the rioters, and the riot police were actually charging forward, and Alex got knocked by a [police] shield and fell to the ground,” he told CBC News. “[Scott] was comforting her and gave her a kiss to say, ‘It’s going to be OK,’ and the photographer just took the shot at that moment.”
Brett Jones said Scott is fine, and Alex suffered a bruised leg from falling to the ground.
The two are overwhelmed by all the coverage the picture has gotten, he said, noting that he has been fielding calls from media around the world.
“They are both just totally stunned by it, actually.”
In an interview this morning with the Toronto Star, the woman in the photograph, Alexandra Thomas, said, “When I first saw it, I thought, ‘No way, that’s not … I can’t believe that’s us.’ Then I looked some more and realized, that is us. That’s a very revealing picture of us.”
Finally, video footage has also been released that confirms the couple’s, and William’s, and the photographer’s, story:
Final score: Romantics 1, Cynics 0.