RCMP officers were on hand as about 50 people gathered in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., on Wednesday to protest after a man charged with second-degree murder in the death of his infant son was granted bail.
One-year-old Ares Starrett died on Nov. 23, 2019, days after his first birthday. His father, Damien Starrett, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death.
“He was the sweetest little boy. He was giving hugs and kisses before he was even five months old. He could climb the stairs by the time he was nine months old. He never cried; he was just an overall happy-go-lucky baby,” Ares’ mom, Ashton Bishop, said.
She says she wasn’t allowed in the courtroom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t even know what justification they gave,” Bishop said.
“It’s a really crappy feeling. I feel like my daughter’s safety, my safety… nobody else’s safety or thoughts were even considered.
“I just want everything to end; it’s a constant roller-coaster.”
After posting her concerns to Facebook, community members planned a protest outside of the Fort Saskatchewan home where Starrett is expected to stay.
“It’s extremely heartwarming,” Bishop said. “I love it here, and I don’t want to feel like I should have to leave for our safety, and even if we wanted to go anywhere, we are stuck because of COVID-19.”
About 50 people came on Wednesday night, some holding pictures of the baby, many holding signs reading “Justice for Ares.”
Tracy Patrick has two young children and felt the need to come out to support the family.
“This has affected me in a way I never expected. I didn’t know them personally, but being that Fort Sask. really isn’t that big, it really shook everyone to its core,” Patrick said.
A rally was also held on Monday with a much smaller crowd. About 10 Fort Saskatchewan RCMP officers were present at both protests.
Starrett was also charged with assaulting his other young child.
According to court documents, Starrett has a lengthy criminal history dating back a decade. His convictions, the latest of which was in 2012, include assault, careless driving, possession of a controlled substance, mischief to property under $5,000, tampering with a motor vehicle, attempting to obstruct justice with a bribe and a number of breaches of probation.