What happened before the Vancouver riot kiss

Here's a little video showing what happened before Alexandra Thomas and Scott Jones had their iconic kiss in the midst of the Vancouver riot -- basically, the Vancouver PD laid an unprovoked beating on Thomas and Jones gave her a kiss to comfort her as she lay groaning on the road.

Vancouver riot kissing couple video shows what happened before photo (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)


  1. I just assumed that before the Vancouver riot kiss there was the Vancouver riot yawn/stretch/slip arm around shoulder.

  2. WHy is it always like this on the internet? Can’t we keep a beautiful lie? I mean the fact that we keep pointing out facts is something great but… I like that picture, I dont need the background.

    1. What lie? Do you mean the one about how Canadians are more civilized than Americans and don’t behave like this?

    2. osmo, the reality is even more beautiful than the lie. The reality here is extremely touching when you look at the caring that occurred there at that moment.

      1. I agree. Actually, my initial reaction was like osmo’s, but I immediately realized that the explanation made the photo better.

    3. This truth is more beautiful than the speculation that it was a staged photograph and the additional passers-by were part of the photo crew.

  3. It’s inaccurate to characterize this as an “unprovoked beating.” According to the couple’s own account, they were knocked over by the police, not beaten, and they felt the police were just doing their jobs. It doesn’t seem like the police went out of their way to go after them. By all accounts, the police were responding in a reasonably professional manner to an out of control situation. The couple also chose to leave their apartment to become part of a crowd of people many of whom were engaged in violence, so it’s not like they were completely innocent bystanders, either. Look, I get as pissed off as the next guy when police use tactics designed to deal with violent mobs on peaceful protesters – but this actually *was* a violent mob.

  4. “unprovoked beating” – The riot police were rushing forward to move people away from a direction. Instead of going in the direction they stood where they were and outstretched their arms to deflect/soften the blow. When they fell they flailed and tried to keep up. The riot police then dropped a few really really half-assed blows on them and, presumably, said some derpy shit to them, before moving along to deal with the crowd. Resistance of any kind is provocation to law enforcement and to claim otherwise is naive and childish. They, luckily, got off really light considering what they were up against. This guy got what he and most guys at protests are looking for in the first place: a shot with the ladies. Good on him.

    1. “This guy got what he and most guys at protests are looking for in the first place: a shot with the ladies.”

      Christ, what an asshole you are, siliconsunset.

    2. Resistance of any kind is provocation to law enforcement and to claim otherwise is naive and childish.

      I can’t tell who you mean to condemn with this. Your tone makes it sounds like protesters, but the words are pretty damning of law enforcement.

    3. Resistance of any kind is provocation to law enforcement and to claim otherwise is naive and childish.

      True. Police are a bunch of uncontrollable thugs who have every right to give the boots to anyone who looks at them the wrong way. To expect them to act like normal human beings is just ridiculous. They are basically angry robots programmed to hurt people. The “kissers” are lucky they didn’t get their heads blown off for not running as fast as they should have.

      These kids should never have gone to Vancouver knowing that a big riot would break out and the police would block them in and then beat them. In fact, people should avoid urban areas altogether if they want to avoid these sorts of situations. Go to the mall instead.

    4. Umm… dude. Did you watch the linked video?

      The police charged suddenly, without warning. The couple just happened to be the closest to them. Police beat them with their shields.

      I smell troll. 2/10, wouldn’t troll again unless really bored.

      1. Riot police are coming at you and everyone is fleeing…yet you still think they need to warn you to get out of the way?

  5. I’m sorry, but calling this an “unprovoked beating” is ridiculous. A riot cop ran into them, and a second cop, seeing another officer involved in something, went over to help. As soon as they realized nobody was a danger they moved on.

    They used their shields, as I would imagine riot cops are trained to do, but at no point do I see them using their clubs or “beating” anyone. They are protecting themselves in a very hectic situation.

    Please don’t diminish the problem of real police brutality by lumping this in with it, and don’t tar the officers involved with that brush.

    1. Really? I have watched the video over and over again….it looks like they were pushed down as they were trying to step backward and get out of the cops way. Pushing someone down who is trying to get out of your way sounds a lot like bullying to me….

      1. Maybe you could get out of the way FASTER? Or do the cops have to individually coddle each person in a riot zone?

  6. Who do you call when the police are criminals? Honestly – I’m a US resident. Who should I call if the police decide to beat me up (besides my lawyer)?

    1. In order of decreasing legality:

      1. Your lawyer. (Perfectly legal, although it might happen AFTER the beating.)
      2. Qik, UStream, or some other live streaming service, preferably one that saves the uploaded video automatically. (Illegal in some jurisdictions, but you’ll want to call #1 afterwards anyway.)
      3. A firearm aimed at the offending officers. (Fastest response out of any of them, but you’ll probably die. If you don’t, you’ll need to get out of the country, and into one that doesn’t extradite to the US, and quickly, or suicide, or you’ll wish you had died.)

  7. The problem with accusing the Police of excessive force when they apply any force at all, is that they have no incentive to be reasonable in future. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    What I see in the video is the Police using a reasonable ammount of force. Note that it’s dark: that means it’s quite some time since they read the Riot Act. If you were there on the street, you were rioting, even if you think you were “just watching”. The cops did nothing wrong here. But they get pilloried for it anyway? No wonder so many don’t bother to do the right thing – everyone assumes you did the wrong thing anyway because you’re a Policeman.

  8. Unprovoked Beating?

    They were in riot zone at least 2 hours after it started, and after the police had repetitively told everyone to go home. They may not have been shit disturbers, but being there make them enablers.

    The riot started at 8pm, after the hockey game ended, and sun sets around 9:30 here. It doesn’t get dark, like in the video, till after 10.

    The BC Civil Liberties Society congratulated the police for their, “restrained and responsible reaction” to the whole riot.

    While I wish no harm had come of anyone, they decided to risk being in a riot zone. Could have been worse.

  9. If you are out and a riot starts, GO HOME!

    If you join in the riot and get beat, tough luck to you. Even if you are just watching the judicious thing to do is GO HOME!

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that even innocent people can get caught up in a chaotic situation like that was.

        Riot started hours previous. This was no protest. People who choose to not leave the area where messed up things are happening risk getting messed up. taking a tone like you did just shows that you didn’t care to learn anything about the situation more than “a person was knocked down by a cop”

  10. This was no peaceful protest, but a RIOT. The police did not kettle the crowd, and were very low in numbers. They didn’t seem to even intervene until after several hours of rioting.

    Locally here in Vancouver, the police are be chastised as being far too soft. The police comments in days after, were to the effect that they didn’t go in aggressively as the primary concerned was with citizen safety, with property damage being more of an afterthought. Average Joe Public would simply not leave the riot area, creating a very dangerous situation, and no way to get to the troublemakers.

    In this case, give the police some credit where credit is due.

  11. From the tone of these posts I’m guessing that none of the posters are from Vancouver. I live in Vancouver and was here during the riot. I watched it on the evening news. While I normally side against the police, in the case of this riot I have to side with them. To “thank” the city for putting up big screen TVs for the crowds to watch the game on, and pursuing a crowd-friendly policing approach; a few spoiled shits decided to tear the city apart. The police actually showed a lot of restraint that night.

    While the kiss was sweet and made for a nice photograph,the only reason those two would have been downtown that night was to participate in the ugly affair, or watch it.

    It was an embarassement to the city.

    Perhaps a better story to cover would be the 2000+ people that came down at 7 am the following morning and VOLUNTEERED to clean up the mess.

  12. Re unprovoked beating

    “David Eby of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said the treatment of Jones and Thomas by the officers looked like standard police protocol for riots.

    “Eby said after police read the riot act — which probably happened by this time -the crowd is obligated to disperse. Police would then move forward in a line with their shields up,” the Vancouver Sun reports.

    The kissing couple happened to be standing at the front of the crowd when the surge occurred, he said.”

  13. A quote from The Atlantic:

    “In Syria they riot for freedom. In Pakistan they riot against drone strikes. In China they riot about many things, most recently in the Guangdong province for worker’s rights. But in Canada, which is officially ranked as one of the wealthiest and most peaceful nations in the world, they riot over, yes, hockey”

    These rioters don’t have my sympathy.

  14. These were not protestors. They weren’t participating in peaceful action. They were either rioters smashing up businesses or gawkers standing around watching, filming, cheering on rioters. This wasn’t the first charge of riot police that evening either. VPD were going block by block, giving plenty of warning at each intersection to those who insisted on hanging around/challenging cops.

    We were downtown taking pictures of the crowds and the mood was clearly turning ugly even before the game ended. We decided to get out before getting stuck, walked the Cambie Bridge (where we saw the first signs of smoke from burning cars), met with a friend, had dinner during while the sun set and then came home to see this charge on the news. There was LOTS of time for these people to get out of the downtown core. They didn’t, they got caught up in the charge. I’m sorry she was hurt but she and her boyfriend shouldn’t have been there.

    What happened in Toronto was wrong, what happened in Vancouver was damned polite considering the mayhem going on.

  15. To the idiots who keep saying people should have just gone home, it’s not so easy sometimes to go home. I remember once getting sort of caught in a peaceful Canada Day crowd in Ottawa and having to wait about an hour and a half for the whole clog of people to go before i could just get out of the hill area. then there was a lengthy walk out of the core. In a crowd like that if you start pushing and shoving your way through it doesn’t work and people either push back or stampede.

  16. A lot of commentors seem to think that anyone in the area ‘deserved what they got’.
    In their interview with the CBC she said she’d just gotten off work at a nearby restaurant. He’d gone to meet her. They were trying to leave the area.

    So clearly, there were people in the area who were not rioting and were not spectating either.

    If your mom had been ‘accidentally’ stomped by riot cops, would it still be reasonable police use of force?

    1. I don’t know where this idea that one of them had just gotten out of work and they were just trying to get home comes from – they told the Toronto Star that they “had been watching the game at a friend’s house downtown when they first heard there was a disruption. They decided to go see what was happening.” So yeah, at that point they probably just wanted to go home, but they were there in the first place because they chose to be. The police clearly misjudged their intentions, but seemed to react appropriately when they realized they were not a threat.

  17. Wait, what? What riot? What kiss? Sorry to come late to the party, but some context would really help. In other news, stay away from rioters if you’re not prepared for violence.

  18. Free lube is available next to the coffee and pastries, for anyone still wanking to the thought of armored cops beating the shit out of people.

    Please try to control your bloodlust at the thought of faces being needlessly smashed, because we didn’t anticipate the turnout; next time we’ll drop by Costco, since they normally have reasonable prices on their industrial KY and police chase DVD sets.

  19. Right wing? Nah, they’re just misinformed. I can’t believe how many people from outside of Vancouver are willing to call this RIOT an act of police brutality. It’s unbelievable how these people who have only seen secondhand accounts of this event feel qualified to judge what happened based on one video. The police presence was low key throughout the playoffs and the rioters took advantage of this. Heck, there are photos out there of rioters charging police lines.

    And BB’s coverage of this whole event is terribly disappointing. Nothing about the volunteer cleanup, the messages written on the wooden boards or the technological aspects of how rioters got turned in by friends and family. No, all that was ignored until something gets posted 9 days after the fact about “police brutality during the riots”. It’s disgusting and narrow minded.

    1. Nothing about…how rioters got turned in by friends and family.

      That’s got to be a grand source of national pride.

      1. Actually…yes. I AM proud the rioters were turned out by friends and family. They were being dickwads and should pay for the damage they caused to the business owners. I AM proud that most Canadians said, “That’s wrong!” and turned in the assholes. …sheesh, what a weird comment

        i’ve been caught in a riot.. you can’t go back cuz the cops are there and you can’t go forward cuz the rioters are there. it’s pretty scary.

        1. Let’s try to think of some societies where it was considered a virtue to turn in your family members to the state, shall we, comrade?

          1. And let’s think about those societies where ‘snitching’ is a lethal offence. Prisons, drug gangs, and so on.

            And when we’ve stopped thinking about those extremes we can address more normal societies, hmm?

          2. Sorry, but this is not only wrong, but horribly offensive. BTW, I’m a Pole, so I sort-of know what I’m talking about.

            The communist regime was fundamentally oppressive, and turning someone might mean torture and permanently ruined careers, sometimes repercussions against whole families, for things like saying something (or not). It was also not okay to turn in anyone, family or not. The state was considered an enemy by most people. The result is some people here still consider it to be wrong to turn in a thief or a hooligan.

            This is very different from a developed country and people who are going to face fines and/or short jail time for blowing up cars because of a lost game. Conflating these two, or saying that in communist countries it was okay to turn in family members, or anyone, for taking part in a riot, is horribly offensive.

          3. Like when the David Kaczynski, contacted the FBI about his brother, Ted? Damn virtuous, wouldn’t you say?

          4. There were murders at the Vancouver riot?

            I’m not saying that there’s never a good enough reason to turn in a friend or a family member, but I certainly wouldn’t do it for anything less than actual violence against a living being. And I would treat it as a tragedy, not as a source of pride.

          5. Republican virtue ain’t what it used to be, when it comes to family members revolting against the State:


            Crime be crime, and politics be politics. Some times it appears as if they walk together. But they really don’t. Just as harming the harmless forms no part of justice, although the “justice system” often does just that. A matter of appearance. there is no disloyalty or shame in turning in a family member for her crimes, if her crimes actually did involve harming people. It is quite different, if the “crimes’ are actually “offenses against the dignity of the state and its rulers” which are merely termed harmful, or are merely “harms” to authority and reputation (that is, to ideas which foster and aid of governmental authority), rather than actually being harmful to people or property.

            There’s a song about blood and water and their relative thicknesses:

            Turn them in? As always, that all depends on what it is they’ve done.

            Would turning them in, ratting them out, be right or wrong? That’s your call to make, all on your own, sometimes – nobody’s gonna hold your hand while you decide, nobody’s gonna punish you for calling it one way or the other – except your own conscience.

      2. Hell yes it’s the responsibility of family and friends to deal with troublemakers (hopefully by dragging them out to the cleanup party the next day to make restitution). The only alternative is jackbooted thugs to deal with troublemakers, or vigilantism.

  20. if you go to see the riot… don’t be surprised when you get caught up in it and cracked over the head… simples…

  21. This was a riot, not a protest: and we Canadians can well distinguish between the two.

    Compare the aftermath of this, and the ongoing aftermath of the G20 demos in TO last year, if you care to. There are in fact stark differences in how we Canucks view and consider these two very different and separate incidents which highlight the difficulties of proper crowd control, or rather, what can happen when such is inadequate, incompetent, or entirely lacking.

    “Peace, order, and good government” – that’s what the Canadian state is all about.
    And that’s what the G20 protests were all about – good government.

    What was this Vancouver riot about? Well, it was NOT about “good government”, whatever it actually was about.

  22. Actually, it’s become one. When a presumably drunk, privileged private-school kid decides that it’s a good laugh to light a police car on fire, and his parents force him to face the consequences instead of sheltering him, lawyering up, and denying everything, yeah, we kind of look on it as a good thing.

    1. Sorry, lost track of the “reply” bit when I logged in. That was in response to Antinous’s snark. Not that I’m not amused by the snark, but here I disagree with the content.

      1. He was caught on film (OK, flash memory) torching the police car, lighter in hand. He’s guilty of lighting a police car on fire because his face was splashed all over the internet while doing it. You can google it up if you’re really so ignorant, but I think you’re just trolling by now.

  23. For everyone who thinks this was out-of-control police brutality, I’d like to ask this question: what is an appropriate way for police to respond to a riot like this? Was it fine for them to charge the protesters, but wrong for them to knock over the couple in question? Should the police take more care to distinguish between people engaged in destructive activities and those who are just hanging around as part of the same crowd? If so, how? Should the police have just stayed back and let the rampage play out? Would this have resulted in more or fewer innocent people getting caught in the crossfire? If you are going to complain about the police response here, I want some concrete alternatives.

    1. 2nd cop’s use of shield to beat the girl was excessive, since she was already knocked to the ground.

  24. Can I feel some sympathy for the couple without having to pick sides between the police and the rioters?

    I’ve never been in a riot myself, but as I understand it, it’s tragically easy to get caught in a riot. It’s not like a flashmob, everybody turning up by arrangement to do a specific thing at a specific place at a specific time. Especially this kind of spontaneous event. Some people were there because they were celebrating in a loud way, and some were celebrating in a violent way, and some were on their way home, and some were going someplace else, and, yeah, some were there to see what the fuss was about. Since when is naive curiosity a criminal offence?

    A friend of mine had just left a shop in London many years ago with bagfuls of shopping when he noticed that there was something odd about the street. It could have been the trash bin rolling past him, on fire. He looked around and saw at one end of the street an angry mob, and at the other a line of mounted police about to charge the mob. He ducked back into the shop. It is possible to run into a mob just by turning the wrong corner while you’re wondering what all the noise is about. Riots aren’t invitation-only.

  25. Sorry all, I was there working as a video journalist and I tell you – the police fairly declared it an unlawful assembly after the first two trucks were overturned and lit on fire. After the announcement was read over loudspeakers – there was absolutely no good or legal reason for innocent, honest people to be there.

    G20 rioters might have a nobility for trying to fight for a purpose, but there was no nobility in Vancouver that night. These were hooligans and anarchists just causing destruction for destruction’s sake. They were throwing bricks at the police, breaking into a tuxedo rental place and stealing all the tuxedos, stealing Coach bags and makeup from the department stores…lighting trash bins and smart cars on fire and eventually lighting two police cars on fire.

    Everyone who wasn’t engaged in actual violent destruction, was cheering on the vandals and contributing to the destruction. Anyone who was there after the police gave the 10 minute fair warning to dismiss because of unlawful assembly WAS GUILTY OF SOMETHING.

    These two kids are lucky they got off as lightly as they did. The BC Civil Liberties Association has praised the restraint of the police. I witnessed that insanity go down and I will forever praise the professionalism of the VPD.

    Personally I wish they had used stronger force to stop the mindless destruction sooner.

  26. I’m perfectly willing to believe that the couple is innocent and even deserving of sympathy. They made a mistake going into a riot zone, but we all make mistakes. I also have sympathy for the police in this instance because, let’s face it, they didn’t want a repeat of the G20 summit (remember, Vancouver had one of THOSE years back and people still despise the VPD for what happened then) and they got taken advantage of.

    I mainly take issue with the narrowminded thrust of BB’s coverage of the riot: VPD pigs knock innocent girl down in street where she is comforted by lover. Nothing else was really worth covering about it (although I’m sure dozens of articles about the whole business were submitted).

  27. Resistance of any kind is provocation to law enforcement

    I hope they’ll still adhere to that principle on the day that the tables get turned.

  28. God it’s depressing that BoingBoing sides with the rioters on this issue. I hope that when someone smashes up Cory’s car and throws a brick through the window of his house the next time their hockey team loses, he’s as quick to denounce the “unprovoked police brutality” of them coming round to his house to take a statement, and try to bring these noble protestors against the tyranny of modern civilisation to justice. Those unformed *bastards*.

  29. i can’t process anything about this video until i find out *what happened to her shoes*– i mean, i wouldn’t feel threatened by a half-dressed “rioter”– sans pants and shit-kickers, let alone a person completely unshod.

  30. Cory, I guess I just don’t get it. I respect your writing and have read boingboing for as long as I have had internet access, but the knee jerk, black-and-white civlib coverage on this site has really disappointed me.

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