Take Back Our Trails group run planned for Edmonton river valley in wake of crimes

WATCH ABOVE: (From Sept. 13, 2019) Runners in Edmonton are taking back the trail in the river valley tonight. Chris Chacon explains what prompted tonight's special event.

A group run is set to take over Edmonton’s river valley trails on Friday evening.

The event was planned after police said there had been 14 incidents of a man exposing himself and/or accosting women in the area since mid-July.

On Wednesday, Edmonton police released photos of a man they described as a person of interest in the case.

“We wanted to get the community together,” said Joelle Chille Cale, a co-organizer of the run.

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“We wanted to show that we can’t be scared off the trails and celebrate the vibrant community that we have, and really, that there’s strength in numbers.

“Our community wants to be safe and have this big presence on the trails,” she added. “The trail system and the river valley is something that everybody should feel they belong to and have a part of and we want to make sure people feel safe.”

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READ MORE: After 14 indecent acts in Edmonton river valley, photos of person of interest released

“It’s time to take action,” the event page on Facebook reads.

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“Please join us on the Take Back Our Trails run Friday evening, covering some of the trails where the suspect has been active. We love our river valley system and we don’t want fear of assault to take that away.”

READ MORE: Edmonton police increase presence in river valley following indecent acts

Chille Cale said when she first heard about the crimes, it scared her.

“One of the things I really love so much about Edmonton is this incredible trail system. I’m out here on the trails more days than I am not. I run five to six days a week on the trails here. Often times I’m running alone,” she said.

“My safety is a big concern. I’ve always taken precautions to make sure that I am safe, but it’s made me scared to run alone [and] that’s a big part of the reason we wanted to do the event.”

On Friday, Edmonton Police Service spokesperson Scott Pattison said police have received many tips since they released images of a person of interest in connection with the indecent acts, but noted they have “no tangible leads” at this point.

Pattison said he was pleased to see the community put together Friday’s run.

“It’s heartwarming to see the community getting involved and taking care of one another,” he said. “They care enough about one another to send a loud message to people that this is our… river valley.”

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“All Edmontonians should be able to enjoy it (the river valley)… without having their safety compromised.”

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Pattison said there have not been any new incidents reported since the images were released.

All runners are welcome and there will be two runs.

The first will start in front of the Kinsmen Sports Centre at 5 p.m. and the second will leave at 6:30 p.m. Organizers are hoping the two groups will meet in the middle of the 6.6-kilometre loop at some point.

Take Back Our Trails run.
Take Back Our Trails run.

Watch below (Sept. 11): Edmonton police have issued a warning after repeated incidents of women being groped in the river valley. Chris Chacon has the details.

Police release photo of person of interest after indecent acts in Edmonton river valley
Police release photo of person of interest after indecent acts in Edmonton river valley