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No apologies from Halifax Regional Police and RCMP for damage done by racist street checks

The Halifax Board of Police Commissioners at its April meeting. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – No apology will be forthcoming from Halifax Regional Police (HRP) and HRM RCMP for the damage inflicted on the African Nova Scotian community through the racist practice of street checks.

This despite a unanimous motion by the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners that asked for such an apology.

“Respectfully, I cannot action this recommendation at this time. I do not minimize the thought that the Board put forward in this motion, but it is important to recognize that issues related to organizational apologies are very complex and sensitive,” writes acting HRP Chief Robin McNeil in response to a letter by the Board Chair and Councillor Stephen Craig.

The letter, and the RCMP and HRP response are filed on the City’s website as part of the agenda for Monday’s Board meeting.

“I feel strongly that speaking exclusively to the street check data, when the community is clearly speaking to much more, would be disingenuous and be frustrating to both our communities as well as our staff,” McNeil writes.

The RCMP response, though much shorter, is similar, not just in intent, but also in wording.

This refusal raises once again the question of who is really in charge, the Board of Police Commissioners or the police it is supposed to oversee.

See also: Who’s policing the police?

It seems the refusal is also out of sync with public opinion. A new poll suggests that six in 10 Halifax residents support a police apology for the past use of street checks, an article by Halifax Star reporter Yvette D’Entremont suggests. Meanwhile, 53% support a permanent ban.

That said, what really matters to many in the African Nova Scotian community is not an apology, but an immediate ban of carding in Nova Scotia.

An update on the Wortley report and a motion that staff prepare a report on retention and removal of street check records are on Monday’s agenda.

In related news, Coast reporter Sandra C. Hannebohm reports that youth members have walked out of the Wortley Street Check Action Working Group, the group appointed by Justice Minister Mark Furey to study the issue.

“At the third meeting, Trayvonne Clayton told minister Furey and members of the group that people are still being harassed by police since the moratorium on street checks was announced. “The silence in the room, lack of acknowledgement and appreciation by the room was painful to endure,” Hannebohm quotes from a statement issued by the youths.

See also: Desmond Cole on Nova Scotia’s street check moratorium: It’s about finding a way to continue the practice

Also earlier this week the Nova Scotia Advocate reported that two residents are circulating a petition demanding an immediate and unconditional ban of the racist practice of carding.

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