A group of concerned citizens held what they say was the “first of many” protests outside of the Port Alberni RCMP station on Tuesday, advocating for a change in the Canadian justice system.
The protest was held in response to an incident last week, where a video was livestreamed showing a 28-year-old man secured with restraints inside a Port Alberni home. The woman who recorded the video claimed that the man had come to her house to have sex with her 13-year-old daughter. RCMP have confirmed that the man is connected to a child luring investigation that was started in March, but also said that the mother’s actions could have compromised the original investigation.
The RCMP have now launched an additional investigation into the circumstances that led to the alleged assault and forcible confinement of the suspect. At this time, no charges have been laid in either investigation, and no names have been released by the RCMP. Both investigations are still ongoing, RCMP Cpl. Amelia Hayden said Tuesday afternoon.
The gathering on Tuesday morning outside of the RCMP station was orchestrated by Amanda Mennie, who said it was a peaceful protest for a change in the Canadian justice system. It was organized at the last minute, but still drew about 15 people.
“We are protesting for the rights of parents to protect our children,” Mennie said on Tuesday. “We want change. And we want change now.”
Mennie, who is currently enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program at North Island College, has started a group on Facebook called “Protecting OUR Alberni Valley” for anyone who disagrees with the Canadian justice system and the lack of protection for victims of abuse. The group currently has about 150 members.
Some of the protesters disclosed that they were childhood survivors of sexual assault themselves. Mennie emphasized during the protest that childhood trauma is directly connected to addiction, mental illness and teen suicide.
She doesn’t know the family personally, but disagrees with the perception that their actions were “vigilantism.”
“She’s not a vigilante, she’s a good mother,” Mennie argued.
A separate GoFundMe account was set up for the mother to help with legal costs over the weekend and had raised more than $800 as of Monday night, but has since been removed.
Mennie said that this protest was the first of many, and is already planning a protest outside of the courthouse and Mid-Island Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser’s office. She said the system needs to change, but acknowledged that it will be a long and trying process. The most important part, she added, is speaking up.
“Childhood should not hurt,” she said on Tuesday. “No child should feel that they don’t have a voice.”