Frustration has boiled over in a Cariboo community leading to a protest Wednesday morning outside the Williams Lake Courthouse.
After seeing months of criminal activity, residents in the McLeese Lake area organized the protest after prolific offenders in the last 18 months who have been wreaking havoc. The protest comes after a prolific offender in the area was released.
Dan Harrison, one of the protest organizers, said that they wanted to show their frustrations.
“We have one prolific offender in our community, and it’s not just isolated to us, everybody is dealing with crime,” he said. “Everybody has their own situation, but this is our situation, and we’re fed up. We’ve had enough. It’s turned into a catch and release situation, so we are hoping that this demonstration will prevent the release.”
Harrison said that overall, he feels police are doing a fantastic job catching the criminals, but once it’s out of their hands is where the problem starts.
“There is a disconnect in the system somewhere, and our purpose isn’t to expose said disconnect; it’s to hope to close it, and fix it, and move forward.”
Over 50 people from multiple communities gathered outside the courthouse to show their support.
“The support here is just overwhelming. I see city councillors, I see police, I see my own community members, I see outlining community members,” he said. “I hope that the courts see the same group of people that I see here.”
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, and Councillor Scott Nelson and MLA Donna Barnett, were among those present at the protest.
Harrison said that they are asking that their communities are safe.
“We, as a community, as a society, deserve safety. We have a right to be safe. We have a right not to have anxiety when we got to work, to bed, tuck our children in, let our kids go play; we have rights,” he stated. “If I had one demand, it’s public safety. These are my community members; these are my friends. We have a right to safety, and that’s all we are asking for.”
Harrison said that if these offenders keep being released, at what point does the public step in to make sure their communities are safe.
“What are we supposed to do. At what point in time does the community get fed up to the point where we take matters into our own hands. That is not what we want; we want peace.”
He noted that at what point does enough become enough.
“What is it going to take? How much is enough? At what point in time do you say that’s enough, because Everybody has a breaking point, how many times are you going to allow the child to misbehave before you correct the behaviour,” Harrison said. “In and out obviously isn’t working, let’s try something new.”
BC Prosecution Services has been reached out for comment but has not responded at this time.