Leader of controversial group briefly jailed
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
The head of the Surrey Creep Catchers was arrested for assault following a sting operation headed by the controversial vigilante group on April 3, according to a post on their Facebook page.
Ryan Laforge, who has had two defamation claims against him this year, was taken in when he called the police to pick up his “citizen’s arrest” on an unidentified man accused of attempting to solicit sex from a six-year-old. The event was captured on film in an “unidentified mall,” according to the Vancouver Sun, and showed Laforge confronting the man and holding him against a wall.
The RCMP denied that they had specifically arrested Laforge for his alleged actions, but stated that they had arrested an unidentified man, according to CTV.
“Well, we citizen’s arrested him. I got arrested and charged… but it was worth it,” said Laforge to CTV.
The group has raised questions about the role of citizens acting outside the law, and the role social media plays in mob justice. The larger Creep Catchers organization has been mired in controversy since they first formed in Mississauga in 2014, and after opening chapters across Canada. Earlier this year, two Creep Catchers-affiliated individuals from Langley and White Rock confronted a man after posing as a 14-year-old and being invited to his place of work. The man turned out to be developmentally delayed, and there was no evidence of any sexual intent.
Two civil suits against Laforge and the Surrey Creep Catchers are ongoing, and add to the controversy surrounding the group.
One claimant alleged that he was targeted by Creep Catchers after criticizing their organization on a Facebook video and was wrongly identified as a pedophile, highlighting the risks involved with a group administering justice outside the law.
The RCMP took Ryan Laforge’s arrest as an opportunity to restate their strong opposition to vigilante groups.
“Vigilantism is a risk to all those involved, including victims, or potential victims, and/or the safety of those persons intent on broadcasting the suspected crime,” said a spokesperson for the Surrey RCMP, in a statement to Global News. Police departments across the country have repeated this opposition, particularly as social media allows for a more global and volatile form of vigilante justice.
Shortly after his arrest, Laforge was released with no charges raised. He claimed in a Facebook post that he was released on bail, but police say he was released “on a promise to appear” in court at a later date, and have not released further information on the case.