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Why was I a suspicious person? Four videos on police street checks in Halifax

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – These four videos are about police street checks in Halifax. They were made by Matt Brand, part of a major project he completed while enrolled in the excellent Radio, Television and Journalism program at the Dartmouth Community College.  Matt kindly allowed us to share them here.

In Matt’s first video he talks with some of the people who attended a Lucasville community meeting on the topic. People mention their puzzlement about why individuals are being stopped, report overbearing police behaviour, and express frustration at having to relay these experiences time and again, for yet another inquiry into these matters.

In the next video former boxer Kirk Johnson tells the story of police stopping him for no reason, and actually impounding his car for not being insured, despite showing papers that clearly established this not to be the case.

This incident would eventually lead to a 2003 Nova Scotia Human Rights Tribunal that found police behaviour discriminatory, and, among other things, ordered police to start collecting race-related statistics.

But even though police did obediently collect race-related information as a result of that Human Rights tribunal, that doesn’t mean they ever looked at it. It took CBC producer and Journalist Phlis McGregor to file a Freedom of Information request to establish that Black people in Halifax are three times more likely to be street checked as white people. This is her story.

Finally Matt interviews social worker Lana MacLean on what happens to people when they are being targeted by police.

“A  prevalence of anxiety, trauma symptoms, poor sleep, unable to eat, and hyper-vigilance when they’re trying to go from Point A to Point B.” Lana MacLean

MacLean was part of the group who, shortly after CBC broke the story, wrote an open letter asking that the practice of street checks be stopped immediately. Other individuals and organizations have since followed suit, all to no avail.

Check out Matt’s entire project, with more context and many more videos.  While you’re at it, visit the equally impressive website Untitled, the legacy of land in North Preston, another fantastic project by students enrolled in that same journalism-focused Community College program.

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One Comment

  1. We hear stories like these all the time. I’m female and white but I drive a LandRover and on a warm day have the windows down while I’m listening to loud hip hop music. Street checks are so stereotypical that I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I get stopped for “driving while Black”. Now that my son has his license, I often worry if he might get stopped. Ironically, I never felt this way living in Houston, Tx.

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