Police inaction concerns lawyer as protesters vow to remain at home of accused sexual predator
Lawyer for Wade Stene wants police to investigate activities of protesters
There were cheers from about two dozen people Thursday afternoon in a central Edmonton neighbourhood when a tow truck removed a white Jeep that had become a target of anger and hatred.
The vehicle belongs to Wade Stene, charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl.
Stene was released on bail from the Edmonton Remand Centre on June 16, and Edmonton police issued a public warning the next night.
Since then, protesters have surrounded the rental house where Stene lives with his mother, and the vehicle, allegedly used in the abduction, has become a target — the back window has been smashed, the word "scum" scrawled onto the exterior and someone in an online post threatened to firebomb it.
Edmonton defence lawyer Mark Jordan wants an outside police agency to investigate Edmonton police for issuing a public warning over his client's release and for ignoring protesters' allegedly criminal acts.
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"There have been dozens, sometimes hundreds of people gathered outside Mr. Stene's mother's residence," Jordan told CBC News. "They've been disturbing the peace, they've been committing criminal offences and they remain on scene."
In a Facebook group, one protester called it "Wade patrol."
On Thursday, Jordan filed an urgent complaint with Edmonton police, demanding that officers protect Stene and his mother.
Jordan claimed police have looked the other way and are not investigating criminal offences, including break-and-enter, uttering threats and yelling racial slurs at Stene's Indigenous mother.
"I've seen videos of them shouting, swearing," Jordan said. "I saw what looks like a noose and handcuffs put on the walkway of the house."
The lawyer is frustrated that police have not forced the protesters to move on.
"As far as I'm aware, the Edmonton Police Service has not ordered them to move," Jordan said. "I understand a porta-potty has been set up, people are cooking food outside. It's a rather party atmosphere."
In his letter to the chief, Jordan said he has seen a Facebook video that shows two EPS members giving water to the protesters and "fist/elbow bumping" them.
Jordan asked the chief to ask another police agency investigate officer conduct, alleging there has been neglect of duty and discreditable conduct.
In an email, an EPS spokesperson stated that a complaint has been received and police will "get back to the complainant in due course."
'Wade has to go'
Protester Craig Houle said he has been outside Stene's house since Saturday.
"I am here to show my support and I'm not going anywhere until he's gone," Houle said. "We're going to stay here and we're going to shout loud and proud. Wade has to go."
Jordan said he is concerned for the safety of Stene and his mother and hopes they will move out of the McQueen neighbourhood.
"It's a benefit for everyone if he can move from that residence," Jordan said. "The McQueen neighbours can feel safe. Having all these people outside gone. Stene's family can feel safe."
Stene's next court appearance is July 2.