The photo was shot in Vancouver after the city exploded with looting, fires and rioting following the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Vancouver freelance photojournalist Richard Lam, who took the startling and sexual photo, was interview by many media outlets such as The New York Daily News, MSN, and NPR about the photo. He explained that he didn’t see that the couple was kissing.
Richard Lam said that he was trying to force his way through the crowd of rioters and riot police when he noticed the couple. “I was about 20 or 30 yards away,” he said. “There were these two people on the ground in this empty street. Initially I thought one of them was hurt.” He managed to take a few pictures before the moment was lost.
“It was complete chaos. Rioters set two cars on fire and then I saw looters break the window at a neighbouring department store,” Lam said. “At that point, the riot police charged right towards us. After I stopped running, I noticed in the space behind the line of police that two people were lying in the street with the riot police and a raging fire just beyond them.
“I thought people were hurt. Next thing I knew there was some guy running toward the riot police, another waving a mannequin leg. I really didn’t know what they were doing.” “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.”
“Everyone has been asking who they are,” said Lam. But he didn’t have the opportunity to talk to the couple and has no idea who they are. Is it reported by Vancouver officials that 150 people required hospital treatment after the riot. 100 people were arrested. Among the injured there are three stabbing victims and one man with a head injury who is in a critical condition.
After the riots and 15 of cars were burnt including 2 police cars and many windows were left broken. According to the police 9 officers were injured. Police Chief Jim Chu said that among the crown were some people who caused trouble on the same streets the day after the 2010 Winter Olympics opened in 2010. He said: “These were people who came equipped with masks, goggles and gasoline. They had a plan.”
When Richard Lam who was taking photos for Getty Images returned to the media room at Rogers Arena his editor took his memory card and saw the picture. “I didn’t even look at it. A colleague said ‘nice photo’. Then I went back to the editing room, and looked at it. My jaw dropped,” Lam said.
One of the witnesses William wrote to The Sun and explained what happened: “I was on the top floor of a parkade on Seymour, the couple 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 my 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.” [via The Vancouver Sun and The Guardian (UK)]