Surrey provincial court, where spitting cases have been tried before. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

ZYTARUK: Cops and gobbers, a Surrey déjà vu

Sadly, people have been spat on here before. Are charges on the way?

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So let it be written…

For reasons entirely unclear to me, when it comes to popularity, journalists and lawyers have long been in a rocket race to the bottom of the tank.

This was again made abundantly clear on Feb. 19 when a few miscreants protesting against mask and vaccine mandates near the Pacific Highway border crossing decided our television-media brethren were moving-target spittoons.

Most cultures, even uncultured ones, have decisively raw ways for expressing scorn. In some places in the world, it’s considered the direst of insults to chuck a shoe at someone, as though they were a dog (not that dogs deserve such treatment either).

But spitting on someone, anyone – and particularly during a pandemic – I’d argue requires a special kind of malevolence.

“There is an ongoing investigation that our serious crime unit has conduct of,” Surrey RCMP Corporal Vanessa Munn tells me. “They’ll have to conduct their full investigation, obtain all video evidence as well as witness and victim statements and at that point, based on the information collected, they would make a determination on what offences did they feel occurred and recommend charges to Crown.”

READ ALSO: Surrey RCMP investigating ‘aggressive protesters’ who swarmed media at Pacific Highway crossing

READ ALSO: Journalist allegedly spat on at COVID protest along Osoyoos border sparks RCMP probe

It brings to mind an earlier case of cops and gobbers in Surrey, this one involving a lawyer.

Older residents like me will remember the Gustafsen Lake armed standoff in 1995, near 100 Mile House, and subsequently 18 people being tried in Surrey provincial court. It was a huge thing, with more than 750 potential jurors being called.

Arising out of that, a Mohawk named John Boncore, who died in 2013, was caught on tape spitting at a lawyer who then complained to Surrey Mounties. Similar to what happened on Feb. 19, a television crew was on scene, caught the gob-launch on camera and broadcast it.

In 1999, Boncore was convicted of common assault over the incident and received a suspended sentence and one year of probation after a two-day hearing in Surrey provincial court’s high-security courtroom 107. He protested to media at the time that “a white man would have never gone to court on that charge.”

And here we are, 23 years later.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Pacific Highway gobsters get arrested, are found guilty of a crime for spitting on someone, and as a result are not permitted to pass through the international border crossing they so earnestly sought to close on Feb. 19?

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

So let it be done.

Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now-Leader.

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