KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – It’s been a while since a rally happened in Halifax, but today a large crowd of some 400 people gathered in Victoria Park across from the Public Gardens in downtown Halifax to demand justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet and all Black and Indigenous lives.
Korchinski-Paquet is the 29 year old Afro-Indigenous woman who, as journalist Desmond Cole reported, fell to her death on May 27th after Toronto police were called to her apartment. Many, including her family, believe that police had a hand in her death and have called for a full inquiry. Cole, in a separate post, documents the deaths of 27 Black, Indigenous, and racialized people killed by Canadian police in recent times.
All this occurs while people in the US are protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis just two days ago.
The Justice for Regis Nova Scotia Coalition, the organizers of Saturday’s protest released the following statement:
Black and Indigenous communities have been raising concerns about policing throughout this pandemic. Across Canada and in the United States, we have seen during this crisis that Black and Indigenous lives are not only disproportionately affected by COVID-19 due to racism, marginalization, and historical deprivation, but that our communities are also targeted by police for enforcement.
Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s death is yet another instance of police being called for help ending with the death of an Afro-Indigenous woman. Despite the threat of policing during these states of emergencies, Black and Indigenous communities across North America refuse to be silenced and we continue to organize to protect our lives and to resist state violence.
Policing is rooted in oppression and violence against Black and Indigenous people all across Turtle Island. These deaths are preventable with the abolition of police and prison systems, and the building and financing of strong communities. Even during COVID-19, many Black and Indigenous people have been murdered by the police, while white and other racialized community members too often remain silent. Now is the time for justice.
Speakers at the rally included Mi’kmaq activists Michelle Paul and Thunder Bird Swooping Down Woman, veteran activist Dr. Lynn Jones (who was on fire), Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, the new James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University, DeRico Symonds, and sometime Nova Scotia authors Kate MacDonald and Angela Bowden. Poet and teacher El Jones read a spoken word poem that she wrote for the occasion. It is published below.
COVID-19 protocol was observed throughout the rally. People engaged in social distancing, and everybody wore masks.
After the rally in Victoria Park the protesters marched down Spring Garden Road and Brunswick Street to gather and disperse at the Gottingen Street police station. By that time this old journalist, who lately has had some problems with his knees, was already on his way home.
They say that Blackness is depravity, a poem by El Jones
They say that Blackness is depravity.
They’re a tooth and we’re the cavity
We orbit in their galaxy
And they claim universality.
From slavery to cavalry
In ghettos or academies
They say we’re inferior naturally
So we’re condemned to live in agony.
Our bodies like profanity. We’re prone to animality
At least that’s what they tell us when they get off on technicalities
And when they beat and murder us I guess that’s understandably
And we know that’s been the strategy for 500 years of history.
They don’t even do it underhandedly. This all takes place quite publicly
And the cops can go on trial but we all know that’s a travesty
Same with their inquiries or all their fake apologies
Until we start to rise up then they say we should go peacefully
Let me tell you bout the frequency. Black bodies dying ceaselessly
And forget about their prisons where it all takes place in secrecy
They call upon protesters for non-violence while they teargas us repeatedly
Can’t find money for a pandemic but get the military in immediately.
You know it’s happened recently. They even lynch us legally
And we stand on the streets and keep asking where’s your decency
The media makes you believe that we didn’t go obediently
We didn’t act respectfully.
A little boy outside playing with a toy but they still treat him like the enemy
A woman with her pregnancy. Or someone suffering mentally
Their loved ones call for help and the cops don’t enter gently
No, they come in with their weaponry
And we end up in autopsy
Outside a coffee shop or she just slipped off the balcony
And when the cops suspended they don’t even lose their salary
They say that there is justice but we out here in reality
And in reality we can’t jog without meeting our mortality
There’s a target on our back like we’re in a shooting gallery.
It’s in every locality, this municipality
When a mom can’t shop in Walmart without police brutality
They stop our people randomly. They say Gerry looks like Anthony
Suspect fit the description so I guess he’s now a casualty
And they take our life so casually. A victim just of gravity
We have no idea why she fell but oh well, it’s not a tragedy
Investigations just formalities, if I could give you an analogy
I’d say that life in a Black body is like life without humanity.
And then they say we act so angrily. We shouldn’t damage property
A cop kneeling on his neck and it took days to charge fatality
And they blame it on our family. Or something in our mentality
And for five centuries or more they said that we’re the abnormality
They label us with savagery.
We have to be controlled or else we’d just do criminality
Imagine the audacity. To say a burning station’s a catastrophe
They care more about their buildings as they murder us so callously
We’re defined by our anatomy our character and capacity
And so they always have some story they’ve concocted in their fantasy
And if we have it all on video they still will say well actually
Just wait for the investigation so we know what happened factually.
When we say that Black Lives Matter, they treat that like a blasphemy
And if they have a heart it long ago was atrophied
When they leave our body on the concrete for hours without empathy.
Black Death is just an industry
In nursing homes or factories
And when we get corona they say we’re acting recklessly
They’re kneeling on our necks while our bodies thrashing breathlessly
And while they kill Black bodies they wear our culture trendily
Do you even have to wonder that this all affects us mentally
We’re carrying the burden and it weighs us down too heavily
We protest in the morning and in the evening there’s no memory.
They control our sexuality, say our children don’t have pedigree
Bust into our apartment even when we’re sitting restfully
Athletes can’t even take a knee without career paying a penalty
How can we even say their names when it just goes on so endlessly
Could be Wednesday or a Saturday
You could be walking happily
Or just driving along and you’re suddenly lying helplessly.
They put others in the cemetery, all victims of coloniality
Muslim and Indigenous they still commit their felonies
16 year old in Winnipeg they gunned her down so senselessly
And all the other violence that we suffer without remedy
It could be you, it could be me, could be any interchangeably
So know that if I die in the presence of police
It never happened willingly.
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This poem is crazy amazing, sad and true
That poem- wow. Sending love and strength to my black and brown Canadian siblings right now, and always. ❤