Police monitoring alleged youth harassment of Southdale senior
A community group in Southdale is fighting back on the streets and online to defend an elderly neighbour.
Kathryn Heidinger said Winnipeg teens have been targeting the woman for more than five years.
“We’ve watched cars come down the street to where the crossroad is for her street, and you can tell who is from the area and who isn’t,” said Heidinger.
For years, she said teens have spoken about the ‘Southdale witch’; egging the senior’s home and shoot paintball guns at the property.
The Winnipeg Police Service said it has received numerous complaints dating back to at least 2005 and charges have been laid on multiple occasions.
"We're talking about public mischief charges,” said Constable Jason Michalyshen. “We've had individuals in vehicles acting out in inappropriate fashion. We've handed out tickets in relation to the Highway Traffic Act, as well."
On social media, the hashtag #southdalewitch turns up posts from youth organizing plans to meet in the neighbourhood and cause mischief. Heidinger called it bullying and said it needs to stop.
“Parents need to be talking to their kids and let them know that what they’re doing, is they’re hurting a person,” she said.
Lawyer Jamie Jurczak said social media can be a valuable tool as police investigate harassment complaints.
"It can give that identity, it might be something that's traceable, or it becomes a lot harder to deny because you might have a harder more tangible piece of evidence that could be used, whether by the police or another investigating body,” said Jurczak.
Tuesday evening, a new Twitter account with the handle @SDVigilante shamed the instigators but has since been taken offline.
Later Tuesday night, a community patrol walked through the area to look for suspicious activity. The group started its patrol two months ago and has noticed cars frequently circle the area with concealed license plates.