On Sept. 22, 2011, Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers was in the middle of a shootout attempt during an exhibition game at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont., when a fan threw a banana on the ice.
As Simmonds said after the game against the Detroit Red Wings: "When you're a black man playing in a predominantly white man's sport, you've got to come to expect things like that."
A week later, London police charged Christopher Moorhouse, 26, with "engaging in a prohibited activity on a premises under the trespass to property act", which carried a maximum penalty of $2,000.
Moorhouse had his day in court on Monday, Jan. 9, and was fined $200 plus court fees for the incident — which was deemed not racially motivated by the judge, nor was it "mischievous behavior" because the banana didn't interfere with play.
John Matisz of London Community News reports that Moorhouse had consumed alcohol during the night and "had purchased the banana at a concession stand at the end of the game, just prior to the shootout." His actions were not considered racially motivated nor a hate crime by the court.
This ruling led Moorehouse's defense lawyer, Faisal B. Joseph of Lerners Personal Injury Law, to blast the coverage and reaction to the incident. From Matisz:
"Absolutely appalled. Absolutely ridiculous," Joseph said of the backlash Moorhouse faced for a non-criminal act. "And for people to be giving death threats to his family — over a banana?. The banana was not loaded and nobody was killed."
Joseph said his client, who is just two credits shy of obtaining a diploma in Police Foundations from Fanshawe College, lost weight because of the scrutiny. He also mentioned Moorhouse broke down in tears every time they would meet in large part due to the "shame he feels he has brought to the city of London, Philadelphia Flyers and National Hockey League."
"Unfortunately, we had members of our community — from politicians to media personalities to you-name-it — convicting him of a crime he had not been charged for," Joseph added. "I had been interviewed by media outlets, asking, 'how does it feel to represent a racist?'"
Much more from the London Community News.
Look, we're willing to believe it was all just unfortunate circumstance that led Moorhouse to throw a banana at a black man during a hockey game and have the world deem it a racially-motivated act. But we're going to need hard evidence that Moorhouse was openly weeping because he brought shame to the Philadelphia Flyers ...