Report on police profiling is released and Halifax residents rally

Black Canadians say they did not need the report to know they were unjustly targeted

Halifax Nova Scotia
Halifax Nova Scotia (Adobe)

Protestors in the city of Halifax recently rallied together against what they feel are racially-charged street checks.

On Saturday, more than 100 residents of the Canadian town gathered together to march across the streets of Halifax, in the name of justice. Some of the protestors could be heard yelling, “No justice, no peace, no racist police” during a protest against street checks.

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The story comes in after CBC News reported that Halifax-area police found Black people were six times more likely to be racially profiled on the street than White people.

Protestor and long-time Halifax resident Connor Smithers-Mapp says that he’s been stopped by police at least eight times.

“Ironically, most of those occurrences were when I was practicing with Nova Scotia Legal Aid, and I would be at the courthouse speaking with a client and members of HPD would come up and ask us who we were and what we were doing,” Smithers-Mapp told the news outlet.

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He also assures that he has no problem with proper investigative techniques, but felt that “arbitrarily asking people who they are and what they’re doing, other than being illegal,” was a waste of police resources.

While gathered outside of one of the city’s public libraries, DeRico Symonds, one of the march’s organizers, presented a slideshow. The slideshow reported that between 2006 and 2017, 2,195 black males were charged with at least one criminal offense.

“This is equivalent to one-third (32.3%) of the entire black male population of the Halifax region,” Symond’s report noted.

Symonds went on to say that Black residents of Halifax don’t need a report to confirm the community’s experience with racism, however, does feel that, “the report definitely does give tangible numbers, tangible information for folks who may not have been aware to now be aware and to now look at the data and the information.”

Symonds continued, “Racism does exist, but it’s up to everybody — it has to be everyone’s responsibility to combat systemic racism, not just people of colour.”

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City Councillor of Halifax Lindell Smith applauded residents for their persistence in addressing the issue, while also sympathizing with supporters through his own experiences.

“I commend anybody here who was part of that, who had to share their trauma and relive that. But, again, I don’t need a report to tell me what I have experienced as a young black man in the last 29 years,” Smith said in his speech to protestors on Saturday. He continued, “Any practice that discriminates, that shows racial bias, that singles out people, should be stopped.”

Despite the temporary shut down of some downtown Halifax streets, police reported that the protests were primarily peaceful.

“Police encountered no issues with the protestors. We would like to thank all members of the public for their assistance and patience during this period of traffic interruption,” police said in a news release to CBC.