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Vancouver –The riot kiss

Along the roadway approaching Vancouver’s Rogers Arena last Wednesday, a string of objects and garbage lay strewn over the ground. Rioters, violently reacting to their team’s hockey defeat last Wednesday, were being chased by law enforcement officers trying to restore order. In the middle of the mayhem, a man and a woman enlaced. Their kiss was immortalized by Canadian Getty photographer Rich Lam.

Widely broadcast on television and on the web, this touching and unlikely photo traveled around the world in only a few hours. The contrast between the surrounding violence and the gentleness of the scene led several media agencies to believe that it was a posed picture. But Alex Thomas, former student of Guelph University in Ontario, and her Australian friend Scott Jones, from Perth, are young people just like any others. They were innocent spectators until they were caught in between rioting demonstrators and the police.

The two asphalt lovers remained unknown for more than 24 hours before finally granting interviews. To the Canadian channel CBC News, Scott Jones declared on Friday: “The police started charging at us, and we tried to run away, but Alex got hit by a shield and stayed down on the ground. By kissing her at that moment, I just wanted to reassure her.”

Relayed on the web and particularly on Twitter and Facebook, the snapshot received a certain number of comments. On of them – “Make love, not war” – expresses the nature of this kind of scene. Now, Rich Lam’s photograph can enter the pantheon of symbolic images, like the girl and the flower by Marc Riboud (1967) or the American kiss of armistice by Alfred Eisenstaedt (1945).

Jonas Cuénin

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