KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission wants to hear from you if you have been subjected to street checks or otherwise interacted with Halifax Regional Police or RCMP in HRM.
An online survey with some 50 questions about such encounters can now be accessed. Most questions are multiple choice, and at the end there is an opportunity to talk about your personal experiences. The survey is anonymous.
Street check statistics released by Halifax Regional Police all the way back in January 2017 showed that Black people in HRM are three times more likely to be stopped than white people. Halifax City council then asked the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC) to investigate. The analysis is conducted by Scott Wortley, an Ontario academic.
In requesting this investigation councillors ignored many requests from African Nova Scotian organizations and coalitions for an immediate moratorium on the practice.
At community meetings hosted by the NSHRC in the Halifax North End and in Lucasville we heard about interactions with rude and racist cops. People spoke of random stops for no reason, police refusing to explain why a person is being stopped, intimidating cops throwing their weight around, story after story after story. A third community meeting, this one in Cherry Brook, delivered much the same message, said NSHRC lawyer Kymberly Franklin during an update to the Police Commission.
And now there is this survey for the people who couldn’t attend these meetings, or at least for those African Nova Scotians who are still sufficiently motivated to engage.
“We have been singled out for generations, we have told these stories thousands of times, what makes this exercise any different than the ones before,” people wondered at the community meetings.
Perhaps this survey has one redeeming quality. All residents of HRM can participate, the questions are not just directed at African Nova Scotians,
We often hear about objectionable police behaviour targeting people on low incomes, Mi’kmaq, non-binary people and others. Maybe the survey is a way to raise awareness of this type of profiling. There are detailed questions on income level, racial backgrounds, education, age, gender identity, etc.
But then again, such findings will likely just lead to more studies. Because actually doing something is just so hard.
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