CBCNews.ca put out a call for information from anyone who saw the couple whose image was captured by a Getty news photographer covering the Vancouver riots Wednesday night. (They have since been identified as Canadian Alex Thomas and her Australian boyfriend Scott Jones.) This email came in from eyewitness Angela Nicholson, 31, of Coquitlam:
I work at the White Spot [restaurant] on the very corner of Georgia and Seymour. I was working the 4-10 shift when the riot broke out. I was able to watch the whole riot from a safe place. That's also how I managed to be on the empty part of Seymour Street behind the riot police — I had just gotten off work.
I have read many news stories, but all of the stories have left out some of the most touching details of their story.
After the couple got trampled, they were lying on the street right at the opening of the parking lot located beside the Scotia Bank tower. Everything took place at 10:30 p.m.
The riot police had quickly turned onto Seymour Street. It was the first time during the whole night that they had occupied Seymour Street; up until that point, Seymour was safe for most plainclothes citizens. Once the riot police started charging down Seymour, I could see many innocent people stuck in the crowds, trying to escape. I watched the whole thing from 40 or 50 feet away.
'Scott tried to catch her but by then the riot police were there and the shield smashed Alex to the ground hard!'—Eyewitness Angela Nicholson
The line of riot police counted out loud, "One, two, three," and then charged in unison. The athletic and energetic anarchists were expecting the charge so they hopped backwards and ran to safety. In doing so, they bumped into the girl (Alex) and threw her off balance. Scott tried to catch her but by then the riot police were there and the shield smashed Alex to the ground hard! There was a lot of confusion for everyone. I could see absolutely everything because I was standing right behind them with nothing obstructing my view.
As Alex fell to the ground, the two riot police raised their batons as if they were going to hit her. When Scott saw this, he threw himself on the ground on top of her (in the hug position) so that Alex would not take the hits. At this time, the riot police still had their batons raised! Alex had one arm wrapped around Scott and the other hand up towards the riot police, palm forward, fingers spread, saying, "Stop!" and "Please!" I could hear her very clearly from where I was. The couple stayed there helpless at the feet of two riot cops for at least 30 seconds (perhaps a little less — when you witness something like that, it feels like forever).
Finally the riot cops stepped over them and reformed the line they had come from. The street cleared and the two were left lying alone in the street. No police officer checked to see if they were okay.
I immediately went over to them to help. I saw their embrace as I approached. After the embrace, I heard her crying a lot. I saw she was pale and her eyes were wide open — as big as they could possibly get. Her stomach was locked so tightly she couldn't lie down fully. It was like she was stuck doing sit-ups. This lasted for at least three minutes. After I told her she was safe, her stomach relaxed.
'It was the most amazing thing to witness. Such tenderness among such chaos.'—Angela Nicholson
Scott was very pale. He went silent but kept caressing his girlfriend. I could see and hear his heart pounding in his chest. He held her so softly and so close; it was the most amazing thing to witness. Such tenderness among such chaos.
I knelt down near her and checked her for any severe trauma. After I cleared her and Scott of any emergencies, I tried soothing her. She was very upset. She said only two things: "I'm so scared" and "I want to go home." I stayed with them and I assured her that both of them were safe and that everything was over. With her boyfriend holding her, she seemed to calm down.
Another person came over to help. He also knew some first aid. He did another survey of the couple just in case I missed something. As that happened, a regular police officer approached us and asked if Alex was okay. I told the officer that Alex had been trampled by the riot police and that she was absolutely terrified.
The cop said, "You shouldn't be here," and then told us to get her out of the street.