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The photo shows a couple kissing while lying on a Vancouver, Canada street between rioters and police, seemingly oblivious to the chaos, but some people say the woman was injured.
The photo taken during the Vancouver riots shows a man and woman in an embrace lying on the street between rioters and police, her skirt raised and both of them seemingly oblivious to the surrounding chaos. The photo has gone viral, with a Twitter account @kissingcouple, and its own Photoshopped meme.
Vancouver officials said some 150 people required hospital treatment and almost 100 were arrested in the rioting and looting that followed the Vancouver Canucks' loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup hockey finals. In the city's downtown, storefronts were smashed and shops ransacked in the riot that followed the game and was captured in dramatic photographs.
But the photo has sparked questions about what exactly the couple was doing. Some people have wondered if it was performance art, while others have said the woman may have been injured in the rioting and was being comforted.
"Couple 'make love' at hockey riot," said a headline in one tabloid newspaper.
“The riot police made a charge so we were running. I looked back and there were two people lying on the street. At first I thought she was hurt,” photographer Rich Lam, who took the shot for Getty Images, told the Toronto Star.
“I didn’t know what I had until I came back and gave (the photo) to my editors. That was just a brief moment in all the mayhem.”
A man named William told the Vancouver Sun that he witnessed the incident, and that the woman was injured.
"The police line rushed the crowd and this couple trying to stay together couldn't react in time and were run over by two riot police officers," he said.
"The girl who was knocked over landed head first on the pavement with her boyfriend landing partially on top of her. She was in visible pain, crying, but the two officers gave them a parting shove and moved on. Bystanders went to make sure she was OK."
A woman in Perth, Australia has come forward to say the man is her son, Scott Jones, and that the woman is his Canadian girlfriend, Alex Thomas.
"It is something he would do, that's our boy," Megan Jones told NineMSN.
Australian Scott Jones, 29, has been living and working in Vancouver for six months, his family said.
"He has always lived in his own world, he's special like that," his mother said. "He doesn't always connect with what's going on around him. He just reacts and the whole world goes on around him."
"I knew it was him because he doesn't have a lot of clothes with him and he always puts on the same thing.”
She also said that her son has been performing some standup comedy in Canada, prompting suggestions that the photo was an attempt by him to create new material for his act.
According to Scott Jones's sister, his Facebook page was covered with comments from friends who had spotted him in the news coverage of the Vancouver riots.
"Classic! This was shortly after the riot police run over the top of us and naturally Alex needed some comforting,” he reportedly wrote on his Facebook page in response.
This SMH video story appears to confirm the heroic gesture.