Pandemic aside, things are back to normal for a Surrey neighbourhood that for a few months was besieged by a group of protesters that targeted a local man, claiming he is a spy for the Chinese government.
The protest carried on for weeks on end, day to day and from dawn too dusk, in the 9700-block of 149th Street, but petered out last month after the Surrey RCMP laid down the law.
Starting on Sept. 14, protesters wore blue tent-like suits and railed against Bingchen (Benson) Gao outside of his home. Gao is a journalist working for a Chinese language newspaper in Vancouver and posts commentary on YouTube. He does not speak English, but his wife Alice Zheng does and she denounced the protesters’ claims as “very ridiculous.”
“We don’t know if they will come back in the future, because their actions were so weird,” Zheng told the Now-Leader on Thursday. “We still worry about it.”
Meanwhile, neighbour Bob Petersen is glad the protesters are gone. “They’ve moved on, it was shortly after your article came out. The police took some action – they’ve been taking action all the way along,” he said, “pushing them back and back.
“They told them they couldn’t film anymore, which is I think the thing that bothered them the most because they were live-feeding to whomever their viewers were.
“That ended it for these guys,” he said. “The only other thing that we are still worried about is they could come back in at any time right, but they’re gone and I doubt that they would so long as there’s no filming.”
Video a Surrey resident made during the ongoing saga of one strange protest in her neighbourhood that's drawn on for 12 weeks now. pic.twitter.com/eyf1tRjXK1
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) December 1, 2020
Surrey RCMP Coporal Joanie Sidhu explained how it went down.
“Where it ended was the protest got to a point where the actions of the protesters were becoming unreasonable,” she said. “Specifically the filming, there was ongoing filming for hours and hours at a time and it got to the point where it was a privacy concern for not only the subject that was the target for the protest but also for the neighbours in the area.”
Sidhu noted that residents “couldn’t live with their blinds open or have their kids out, so that was challenging.
“They weren’t able to live normally, a normal life with their blinds open and allowing their kids to go out, knowing that they would be captured in the videotaping, so at that point the officers had no choice but to place restrictions on the protest because they were getting very close to territory where they were on the borderline of harassment, mischief.”
Sidhu added that police designated “a little green space” for them to protest from.
“They didn’t return after that.”
Police are also investigating an alleged assault in the cul-de-sac in November and Sidhu said a charge recommendation “package” has been forwarded to Crown counsel for consideration.