June 2, 2020
PO Box 1749, Halifax, NS B3J 3A5
Dear Mayor Savage,
Women’s Wellness Within is joining calls from anti-racist organizations across North American and the world to defund, or at least drastically restrict police funding, and to redirect the funds into our community. We’ve heard the calls for sensitivity and bias training, trauma-informed approaches, body cameras, dialogue with community members and we’ve watched other communities struggle and fail, even amidst great efforts to ‘reform’, at reducing anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racist violence inflicted by law enforcement.
As Professor Alex S. Vitale wrote for the Guardian on May 31, the scope of policing has expanded significantly over the past half-century. Funding and services provided by all levels of government across North America has slowly been siphoned from providing aid and support to the marginalized, racialized and disenfranchised towards an increasingly armed and militarized police force, now tasked with responding to folks in mental health distress, in poverty, those experiencing addictions, and gender-based violence.
In Halifax just last year, we watched in horror as the municipality allocated a whopping $500,000 for an armoured police vehicle. We looked for evidence of the potential benefits the vehicle could bring to public safety and found none.
In April of 2020, Nova Scotians bore witness to the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. In spite of a well-funded and armed RCMP hot on his trail, the gunman evaded police for over 8 hours and 22 lives were taken, leaving so many of us asking how such a tragedy could have been avoided.
We are now reeling from the death of a Black American man, George Floyd, at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis and questions remain around the possible murder of a young Canadian Afro-Indigenous woman, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, whose life in Toronto was cut short after a fall from her balcony while surrounded by police. Regis is mourned by many here in Halifax.
Racialized Canadians deserve better. Policing is broken and more money for tanks, training or community dialogue won’t fix it. WWW demands disarming and defunding the HRP. Let’s spend money on making our communities stronger and finding ways of meaningful, restorative, non-violent justice for all. Thank you,
Martha Paynter RN PhD(c), Chair of the Board, Women’s Wellness Within
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