featured Racism

It sure looks like Halifax police continues to harass Black Nova Scotians

Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – From a Facebook post I stumbled upon late last week.

I was sitting on my bed in my apartment around 1 am last night when I heard a bunch of cops yelling outside my window. I look out and there are two hotshot white cops with their guns drawn pointed at a car that was pulled over and not running. My window was slightly open and I heard no screeching tires and no speeding.

The door to the car opens and a young black man gets out with his hands up, looking confused and scared…. The man walks over to the cop car hands in the air as the younger cop continues to yell at full volume. They grab him rough and turn him around against the car and cuff him. The one cop calls him an asshole for no reason and then screams at him to get the passenger out of the car. A young black woman gets out of the passenger seat and the cops pull her to the sidewalk away from the car.

Hotshot starts yelling at the young man to speak English even though he obviously speaks French and starts telling him he’s pretending not to speak English. At this point there are SEVEN cop vehicles surrounding the car with their lights on.

Turns out the young man was driving with expired insurance. The cops had put their flashers on to pull him over for whatever reason and he drove for about a block before finally pulling over to the side of the road.

Then there was also this. Happened in late November last year. 

After a traffic stop several police officers used a stun gun on a Black man in his sixties already on the ground. Police say the man assaulted an officer, but even if true the extent of police violence for all to witness on video is shocking. Relatives (including Kirk Johnson) and others who gathered at the Gottingen Street police station certainly didn’t believe the cops’ version.  

See also: Youths rally against police brutality and anti-Black racism at Gottingen Street police headquarters

Now police is investigating itself after a formal complaint was made, but as CTV points out, we may get a press release if we’re lucky, or we may never know the outcome. 

We don’t know the context in either of these cases, isn’t it all just anecdotal?

Well, we continue to hear stories like the ones above coming from the Black community in Halifax. 

I attended two community meetings about police conduct last year in Halifax and in Lucasville.

The stories that were told there about overbearing police behaviour targeting Black Nova Scotians align perfectly with the two recent stories above. 

These accounts came from lawyers, civil servants, members of the military, what you would call respected community members.

I was pulled over for using a cell phone. The cop was screaming. It was an ice pack. Why be so rude?

My husband is Black, he parked in the church parking lot waiting for me to come out, and then he fell asleep. Next thing he knows, there are two cop cars, flashing lights, and cops shining light in his eyes. He didn’t know what to do.

A woman was using the WiFI in the parking lot of an Upper Hammonds Plains church. All of a sudden two cop cars pull in, with flashing lights. Why?

I see a lot of ignorant Halifax police needlessly bothering our Black youths. RCMP as well.

Random stops for no earthly reason, police refusing to explain why a person is being stopped, rude and intimidating cops throwing their weight around, story after story after story.   

Routine traffic stops, and people immediately end up out of their car, hands on the roof, with the officer’s hand resting on his gun. The embarrassment when colleagues and community members get to witness that.

And why doesn’t anybody in the force speak out when they witness these things?

People don’t call the police even in an emergency because they don’t feel safe.

The Wortley report validated these stories which until then were ignored by white people in authority. Halifax police (though not the RCMP) apologized. But here in HRM it sure looks like police harassment of African Nova Scotians continues unabated. 

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

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