featured Racism

Raymond Sheppard: In Nova Scotia justice is not served when hate crimes happen

Jan 18 protest at Pictou Courthouse in support of Nhlanhla Dlamini. Screenshot from New Glasgow News video footage

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) reported in October 2018 that hate crimes and expressions of white supremacy are sharply increasing.

Hate crimes are motivated by prejudice and target individuals or groups because of their race, sexual orientation, religion or other grounds.

Hate crimes may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, taunting, name calling, mate crime, graffiti, letters and or hate mail.

Hate crimes against persons of African descent are escalating in Canada, and indeed Nova Scotia. Meanwhile authorities fail to take a strong public stand against these intolerant actions.

Hate crimes against young African Canadian youth are especially heinous. Case in point, the September 19, 2018, alleged racial bullying, racist taunts and slights that culminated in Nhlanhla Dlamini being shot with a high velocity nail gun by a co-worker (Shawn Wade Hynes) employed with PQ Properties Limited of New Glasgow Nova Scotia.

As a result of the attack Nhlanhla Dlamini underwent emergency surgery for a collapsed lung resulting in a three percent loss of lung capacity function.  He has said that the action of his co-worker was no accident but a deliberate attempt to injure him.

It seems that the harassment Nhlanhla Dlamini faced was explicitly racially motivated. Many are left wondering why Hynes’ charges did not include a hate crime, although another charge of assault causing bodily harm was recently added to the initial charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm

Based on the above, we, the Core Group of African Nova Scotians (CGANS) and allies in New Glasgow and Halifax believe that when such racist and hate-driven cases are before the criminal courts relevant questioning of the perpetrator occurs in order to secure justice.

We call on the Public Prosecution Service, the Department of Justice and other privileged justice officials to intervene before once again a tragedy becomes a travesty and justice and human rights are compromised in the case of Nhlanhla Dlamini.

Through the blatant act of outright violence, not just the family of Nhlanhla Dlamini have been impacted, but also the entire African Nova Scotian Community, especial our youth. That’s why impact statements should be accepted by the court/crown. These impact statement will show the mental health issues caused by this senseless crime within the larger community.

The prosecutors in the case must make sure that they introduce direct questioning along racial lines in order to compensate for racial bias in Nova Scotia’s criminal justice system.

African Nova Scotians are over represented in the criminal justice system in Nova Scotia because of this inherent bias. As well, there seems to be a preponderance of plea bargaining based on different treatments based on race.

In 1989, the Black United Front of Nova Scotia had standing at the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall prosecution. Justice Alex Hickman, who led the inquiry, acknowledged the historical mistreatment of African Nova Scotian within the criminal justice system of Nova Scotia.

Given all this it is no wonder African Nova Scotians have little faith in this privileged system of justice that causes much damage and misery for African Nova Scotians. Meanwhile, the system certainly seems to work quite well for Caucasians with all their unearned privilege. Just look at the disproportionate number of African Nova Scotians incarcerated in federal and provincial jails and prisons.

In Nova Scotia and indeed Canada when it comes to African Nova Scotians as victims, others get away with murder.

An example of how Albert Ian MacDonald, who is white, killed Warren Edward Sheppard, Jr. an African Nova Scotian on March 13, 1996 and got away with murder because of his defence of insanity.

African Nova Scotians must get their due process. The provincial government must call an inquiry into the mistreatment of African Nova Scotians by the criminal justice system to honour the United Nations The International Decade for People of African Descent.

Raymond H. Sheppard

On behalf of the Core Group of African Nova Scotians (CGANS)

With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.

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