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10 years later: The Vancouver riot kissing couple is still together

Click to play video: 'The story behind the Vancouver riot kissing couple photo' The story behind the Vancouver riot kissing couple photo
Amidst the blur of all the coverage of the violence in Vancouver's Stanley Cup riots -- one image captivated millions. A couple, kissing, in the middle of it all. Who are they? And was it love among the ruins? Or a kiss for comfort? Global National's Eric Sorensen finds out. – Jun 20, 2011

It has been 10 years since Vancouver photographer Richard Lam shot thousands of photos of people rioting on the city streets after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

But of all the thousands of pictures taken that night, one stands out above the rest.

Known as the Vancouver riot kissing couple, Lam captured a moment where a man was giving a woman a kiss as they lay on a city street with police in riot gear around them.

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The photo was seen around the world, gracing the front pages of newspapers and websites and leading TV newscasts.

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The couple, Australian Scott Jones and Canadian Alex Thomas are still together, raising a family together in Perth, Australia.

On that fateful night, they had been in downtown Vancouver at a friend’s house watching the game and were on their way home when the riots broke out.

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In an attempt to get home they ran into a group of Vancouver police officers, some in riot gear, and had actually been knocked down by the police.

“It was a very intense situation. We’d been knocked down by the police, they were hitting us to trying and move us on and then eventually they did move on,” Jones told Global News. “But I didn’t really think about it, I just kissed her to calm her down.”

Thomas said she was freaking out at that moment and Jones was trying to calm her.

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“I was pretty worked up at that point, pretty scared and worried,” she said. “I’d been knocked down so I don’t think I was thinking about how thoughtful that was until after the fact.”

Read more: Looking back: 5 years since Stanley Cup riot

Having grown up in Vancouver, Thomas said she’d never seen anything like the riots before.

“Whilst I’d heard about the riots (in 1994), I didn’t have any experience (with it),” she said. “You don’t get riots in Vancouver.”

“I found it really hard to imagine that a city like Vancouver could end up in that situation.”

The couple did not even know they had gone viral until someone tagged them on Facebook.

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The photo has now been used in marketing and campaigns for products worldwide.

While it is owned by Getty Images, because the couple is recognizable in the photo, anyone wanting to use it has to get permission from Thomas and Jones.

“Once it became our names associated with those people in the photo, we wanted to have some option to speak to people about it if it was to be used for commercial purposes,” Thomas said.

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Lam met up with the duo before they left Vancouver to talk about that moment. They still keep in touch from time to time.

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“We keep (a copy) in our house and then I’ve also got a bar in Fremantle and we’ve got it down there as well,” Jones added.

Thomas said the photo doesn’t come up too much now, 10 years later, but it was an important part of their lives. “We don’t look back on it negatively,” she added.

“(Lam) just saw a perfect juxtaposition.”

Riot police walk in the street as a couple kiss on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver broke out in riots after their hockey team the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Rich Lam/Getty Images

The couple now has a three-year-old daughter and owns a craft beer bar in Perth called Beerpourium.

Thomas does still follow the Vancouver Canucks and hopes that if they do win the Stanley Cup another couple could go viral but in a celebratory pose, not lying on the ground.

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“We hadn’t seen this type of thing before, we’d only seen a couple of things go viral,” Jones added.

“We left days after this happened. So we sort of left it all behind us but of course, for Vancouver residents, there was a lot of reckoning after about what happened.”

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