Protesters spent the day outside the law courts in an attempt to change the way the justice system handles sexual predators, but the group is also being criticized for its tactics that some say undermine the court process.
About a dozen people took part inside the protest, encouraging drivers to honk in support of their movement.
“If there’s a pedophile being released into my community, I should have the right to know,” said Jack Schultz, a member of Communities Against Child Sex Offenders.
The group believes the justice system isn’t handling cases involving criminals who prey on children properly.
“When they’re released, we track them down and we find out which communities they’re in, we go to the communities and we let everyone know that this pedophile has been released into your communities,” said Schultz.
“There’s a presumption of innocence when someone is accused of a crime, they’re presumed innocent,” said criminal defence lawyer Mark Jordan.
Critics say the group’s actions undermine the integrity of the justice system.
Jordan represents Wade Stene, the man accused of abducting and sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl in March.
Stene was granted bail, and protestors camped out near the home they believed was his for two weeks.
“Somebody tried to break into the house, there was a coffin placed outside the residence, a noose placed on the walkway to the residence, so it was disturbing,” said Jordan.
Stene feared for his safety, and is now waiting for his next court appearance in the Edmonton Remand Centre.
“To us, that’s a win, gets him off the streets, makes the community safer,” said Zak Gladue, who also belongs to the group People vs. Predators.
In June, Edmonton police warned the public of Stene’s release, a move that motivated protesters to take action.
A police spokesperson released the following statement:
“The intent of releasing this information is to enable citizens to take suitable precautionary measures and is not intended to encourage any form of vigilante action. Unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.”
The group has no plans to stop. They’re doing more campouts, including this one in north Edmonton earlier this week.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson
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