A London, Ontario, man has been charged with engaging in prohibited activity for throwing a banana in the direction of Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds during an NHL preseason game last week in Canada.
Chris Moorhouse, 26, could face a maximum fine of $2,000 for throwing the banana at Simmonds, who is Black. Moorehouse seemed to get off easy because local police said his actions did not meet the hate crime or mischief threshold.
His lawyer said the move was a stupid mistake and that Moorhouse didn't think it would be viewed as racist. “He said to me, ‘If I had an apple or an orange, I would have thrown that out onto the ice,'" Faisal Joseph told the Detroit Free Press. “This is a young guy who’s guilty, if anything, of an act of stupidity.”
Moorhouse was just trying to prevent the 76ers from scoring the winning goal, added the lawyer.
"Clearly, the incident became the focus of the local community and across the national and international plane," London police chief Brad Duncan said to the Associated Press. "Mr. Moorhouse has expressed remorse for his actions."
There were 7,427 fans in attendance at the exhibition game in London between Detroit and Philadelphia, but the police were able to identify Moorhouse using a variety of sources, including social media.
Simmonds, meanwhile, has gotten himself involved in another controversy related to discrimination. He was accused of making a homophobic slur in the direction of another player Monday. No action was taken because there was no conclusive evidence Simmonds made the remark, though he has not denied he made it.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has stepped in and encouraged the NHL to become more sensitive and to demand Simmonds makes an apology.
"Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink," GLAAD acting president Mike Thompson said in a statement. "The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility.
"He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable."
(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)