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Judy Haiven: In the fight against police brutality and racism, we need community leaders and their organizations to be seen

Last week’s rally at Walmart Mumford Road. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Rule of Four is a phrase coined by psychologists.  The informal rule states that in order to get a more accurate look at the world, people should read or hear four ‘uplifting’ stories for every ‘bad’ one.

That search for the ‘uplift’  is what may be going on in the minds of some clergymen (and clergywomen),  leaders of religious or ethic communities, anti-poverty organizers, progressive politicians and trade union leaders and the case of Santina Rao.

In scouring the web, I have yet to find any of them publicly condemning the police or rallying to support Rao.  As we all know from the mainstream media, Rao is the 23 year old Black mother who was assaulted by four Halifax cops in the toy aisle at Walmart last week. 150 people rallied at Walmart last Friday to protest police violence and racial profiling; I was one of them. 

I commend all the people at the rally who were in unions, in community organizations and in anti-poverty groups. It was great that you came to show solidarity. But we all blended into the crowd. What I’m asking is where were the officials, or the semi-official leaders with a banner or  sign showing solidarity as a representative of a group in support of Rao? Where were they?

See also: Protesters rally at Walmart in support of Santina Rao

What ever happened to the idea that we are each other’s brother or sister, that we are “keepers” of one another?  Isn’t that what all religions preach? What ever happened to the idea of supporting someone in need – isn’t that what true charity is all about?

What ever happened to the sentiment and action suggested by Martin Niemoller’s famous poem:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist.  

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Last week it seems the community leaders took no chances.  Despite the fact the 5 pm Friday demonstration against Walmart and police brutality was noted in a front page story in Herald, no community representatives came to see and to be seen at the rally for Rao.

I know it was the coldest day of the winter. Maybe some of them couldn’t attend.  But today, more than a week after Rao being attacked and arrested, one of the easiest things to do to support her and anti-racism is to speak up, to write an article, an op-ed, a letter. But caring leaders in the broader community remain silent.

In the fight against police brutality, and racism, we need community leaders and their organizations to be seen, and to be there.

Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, an organization that fights discrimination, bullying and racism in the workplace.  Contact her at equitywatchns@gmail.com

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One Comment

  1. I fully agree. Anyone with a true sense of Justice for All, anyone who truly cares about Human Rights… should have been at the protest if the were able to or at least have spoken out against the injustice of excessive force.

    Raymond Sheppard

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