Last week I told you about the work the citizen activists with People vs. Predators, or PvP, are doing to keep alleged sex offenders behind bars instead of out on bail in the community as they await trial.
Cheri Easton, her fiancé Mike Meilleur and their fellow advocates hand-petition neighborhoods where people who are accused of hurting or killing kids are released, then present those signatures to Crown Prosecutors, as representative of community concerns in the hope of getting bails revoked.
The petitions are part of a larger strategy of community presence and engagement to make sure neighbors know just who is living in their midst.
PvP Uses Alberta's Legal System To Pressure Crown Prosecutors
And it’s been working.
In one instance, PvP’s tactics have been so successful that the accused sex offender applied to have his own bail withdrawn so he could go back to jail.
But what happens when the offender has done his time and is quietly released back into the community where he offended?
What if his house backs onto a popular park and is just a few blocks away from a school?
That’s the case with convicted sex offender Barry Odenbach in North Edmonton.
Raising Community Awareness of Convicted Sex Offender
PvP arranged a community awareness event, with signs, petition, and a community barbeque to warn the neighborhood.
But they also went one step further, giving the now teenaged victim — who had to move away to B.C. — a chance to confront her offender, with the help of a 40-strong biker motorcade all the way from the airport to her offender’s door.
I was there to see it all, from rumble of the bikers arriving, to the emotional confrontation with the victim and her offender, to the five cop cars that showed up when the offender called the police to try to get rid of PvP.
I talked to neighbors who had no clue what kind of person shared their cul-de-sac and I interviewed bikers about why they got involved in the PvP cause.
What's Next For People vs. Predators?
I also asked Cheri and Mike about what they have planned next.
The media has painted PvP as “vigilantes” but how would they even know? I was the only journalist there to tell the other side of the story about the work PvP is doing to keep communities safe.
Unfortunately, with the coronavirus making bail and release easier than ever, PvP is going to have no shortage of communities to warn and victims to advocate for.