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Rally at Windsor courthouse charges racism and disrespect in police and Crown handling of death

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Dashonn States was only 22 years young when he died this June as the result of a single car crash. Dashonn was merely a passenger, not the driver, but his family says even after his death he continues to face racism and disrespect as the case winds its way through the court system.

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Andrew Rafuse, the man who drove the car, is awaiting trial and free on his own recognizance after being charged with impaired driving, criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death and fleeing the scene of an accident.   

Relatives and friends of Dashonn are upset with the RCMP and the judicial system because they feel that their loved one continues to be a victim of stereotyping  even after his death because of some earlier run-ins with the law. Dashonn being Black is a big part of that, they believe.

This morning about thirty people gathered at the Courthouse in Windsor to demand respect for Dashonn’s memory.

“We’re here to show the world that Dashonn’s life mattered and that we are willing to fight for justice, Nicole States,” Dashonn’s stepmother, tells the Nova Scotia Advocate. “When Dashonn was before the court he was held without bail for a misdemeanor offense. Why is Andrew Rafuse out on his own recognizance after causing a death?”

“I definitely feel anti-Black racism is part of the story. That’s what my guts tell me when I compare  the treatment that we are getting with how I see other people being treated,” Nicole States says.

Neither police nor prosecution services have been forthcoming with information, the family charges. “The Crown hasn’t even talked to us, or offered condolences,” says Nicole States.

States is also upset that Dashonn was tested for blood alcohol content after his death. “That wasn’t necessary, he was a victim, not a criminal. Whether he was drinking or not doesn’t matter,” she says.

Several people at the rally talked about how after a short stint in prison Dashonn had turned his life around and was well liked.

“Dashonn’s  life mattered. He was a great son, a great cousin, a great big brother, a great boyfriend. He really changed his life around. We loved him a lot,” says his stepmother.

“Dashonn is pretty much family,” says Janise Parker, who attended high school with him. “He was awesome, he was kind to me, we laughed together, and now he is up in heaven. A life has to go down with a meaning, but his life isn’t allowed to have that meaning.”

“I wasn’t surprised when I heard what was happening with the police and the court system. I sat down and thought, nothing has changed. A lot of people don’t think racism is still happening, but it is. I grew up with it. It’s only when you are privileged that you don’t see it,” Parker says.

The States family is raising money to help with Dashonn’s funeral costs. Click here to help out.

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