KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – By appealing a decision by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC) Sobeys is needlessly extending the stress and suffering of an African Nova Scotian woman its staff earlier falsely accused of shoplifting.
That’s the message about 160 protesters delivered loud and clear on the doorstep of the Sobeys Tantallon store.
It all started in 2009, when in front of other customers a Tantalon Sobeys’ employee accused Andrella David of being a known shoplifter, and of also robbing a nearby liquor store.
David took the groundless accusation to the NSHRC. In September of 2015 a NSHRC board of inquiry ruled in favour of Ms. David, and concluded that racial profiling was a major factor in the case.
And now Sobeys is appealing.
“We are very disheartened that Sobeys is continuing with its appeal,” Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hammonds Plains told reporters.
“We totally understand that Sobeys has every judicial right to appeal, but their objection is with the process. So we are asking Sobeys not to drag an innocent woman into this process all over again, re-victimizing the victim.”
“I am really disappointed that Sobeys hasn’t even bothered to apologize,” said Anderson.
Many people attending the rally were members of the nearby African Nova Scotian community of Upper Hammonds Plains. Others traveled from Halifax and further to express their displeasure with the Sobeys decision.
Former Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis was among the protesters.
When I walk into a store it doesn’t matter who I am, I am just a black person that needs to be watched to make sure I don’t steal anything, Francis told reporters.
“It is very tiring to have to strategize before you go into a store,” Francis said. “How you are going to carry your bag, should I close my bag? If I keep it open are they going to think I put something in it? It is very stressful to live life like that every day.”
“We are living in 2016. This is not the decade of Viola Desmond. Even in this day racial profiling still prevails,” Anderson told the crowd.
“Racial profiling still hurts, it still destroys, it still ruins people’s self esteem and integrity.
“I am asked why do we make race always an issue, whey is race always a card to be played? And I respond, race is not a card that I play, it’s the life that I live.”
See also statements by the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches and the Emmanuel Baptist Church on the issue.