KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This afternoon Shawn Wade Hynes, the Pictou County construction worker who fired a high velocity nail gun at a young Black co-worker was found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon.
During the three day trial earlier this month Hynes maintained the nail that punctured Dlamini’s lung was fired accidentally and ricocheted off a wall. Dlamini told the court Hynes aimed the nail gun at him, causing him to run away.
There was a sense of great relief among the many supporters of Nhlanhla Dlamini who attended the verdict, many of whom had come all the way from Halifax.
There were many indications that racism played a role in the incident, but the prosecutor chose not to pursue these allegations and raise the spectre of a hate crime.
In his oral decision Judge Del Atwood had harsh words for Hynes, but also for Dlamini’s employer, the workplace safety officer, the police investigation, and even for his own decision to excuse Hynes when he didn’t appear before him in the first scheduled session earlier this year.
“I could have done more. I merely rescheduled. I should have issued a warrant, but I failed to do so,” Atwood said.
He also blasted employer Paul Quinn’s severe lack of concern about unsafe workplace conditions and culture, and his negligence in dealing with the injured young man, driving him home rather than to the hospital. Quinn should have called 911, Atwood said, regardless of what a severely injured Nhlanhla wanted.
I am convinced that Hynes sought to scare Dlamini, thus risking injury, the judge said. Did he intend it? We do not need to decide that. He did it to scare Dlamini, which constitutes a threat. Any reasonable person should see the risk, the mere pointing constitutes assault, the weapon being the nail gun.
“Because of recklessness, racism, and other isms, we are here today to applaud one of the few judges in the history of Nova Scotia who actually did the right thing,” said and emotional Raymond Sheppard during an impromptu press conference immediately after the verdict.
“The justice system in Nova Scotia, and throughout Canada, has miserably failed African people over generations. This might be the start of something new, let’s hope,” Sheppard said.
“I think it was easy for us, as African Nova Scotians, to not believe in this justice system. To believe that it was going to fail us one more time. To be quite honest, I didn’t have the expectation that justice would prevail, because history has taught us that there is no justice for Black youth in Nova Scotia. So today, I am just so overwhelmed with the verdict. Not because the evidence wasn’t there, but because we had a judge who was fair,” said Angela Bowden.
Bowden and Sheppard, incidentally both frequent contributors to the Nova Scotia Advocate, worked tirelessly to support the Dlamini family and raise awareness about the case.
“When it happened, it was our family, we’re the ones who had to deal with it,” said Buhle Dlamini, Nhlanhla’s father. “We didn’t believe it ourselves, we didn’t expect it. But it did happen. And we did not hide from what it meant. We did not mince our words about the fact that it was racially motivated.”
”Our son, our brother was targeted at work, and his life was put in danger, so much so that we could have lost him. And for no apparent reason, no apparent reason,” Buhle Dlamini said.
“It was mentioned how this case would divide the community. But this just judgment has solidified that we will not be divided, that we have to remain united against racism, to remain united against injustice, to remain united. We won’t allow perpetrators or haters or any of these people to bring division to the community. We would like to say as a family that the community should now come together and continue to fight injustice in our communities.”
With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.
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