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Open Letter regarding policing of the African Nova Scotian community

To: Premier McNeil, Minister Furey and Minister Ince: 

June 3, 2020 

The recent traumatic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and George Floyd have affected the African Nova Scotian (ANS) community as well as our brothers and sisters worldwide. They remind us of the recent events of police brutality against Black Lives in Nova Scotia (Santina Rao at the Mumford Walmart, the 15-year-old at the Bedford Place Mall and the tasing of an ANS man on Quinpool Road in December 2019) and continue to trigger our historical trauma of hundreds of years of similar maltreatment.

The ANSDPAD Coalition’s Justice Strategy Working Group continues to work on justice and policing issues with its many partners. For decades our community has called on government to work collaboratively with us to address the ongoing issues of racial profiling, over policing, police brutality, systemic anti-Black racism in the justice system, and differential treatment while incarcerated.

Though some progress has been made, particularly with recent investments in programmes aimed at reintegration services for ANS’s, it still seems that we have had little attention to the issues of policing in the ANS Community. The ANSDPAD Coalition continues to actively work to address a number of justice related issues: 

  • To highlight the fact that street checks have not really been banned; 
  • To encourage people to request their personal street check data – and to not have it destroyed by police before people can do so; 
  • To assert that racial profiling continues to exist when police interact with members of the ANS community; 
  • To call attention to police inability to use proper de-escalation techniques when interacting with ANS’s; 
  • To remind all persons that the data regarding traffic stops in Halifax still has not been made public; 
  • To draw attention to the increasing complaints of police brutality towards the ANS Community; 
  • To remind that over-incarceration and access to all equitable forms of justice for ANS’s continues to be of a grave concern with no apparent plan by the province and law enforcement to address this injustice; 
  • To reiterate that anti-Black racism in all dimensions of the criminal justice system and corrections arises from the legacy of enslavement and segregation; 

To address these issues the ANSDPAD Coalition has developed an ANS Justice Institute (ANSJI) and proposed an ANS Policing Strategy (ANSPS) which we have worked collaboratively to develop.

The ANSDPAD Coalition requests again for the Premier, the Minister of Justice, policing agencies in all municipal jurisdictions, and the RCMP to work collaboratively with the ANSDPAD Coalition and the ANS Community to fully implement the ANSJI and the ANSPS. 

Vanessa Fells, DPAD Program Coordinator ANSDPAD Coalition

See also: PSA: The African Nova Scotian DPAD Coalition responds to Count us in, Nova Scotia’s action plan for the rest of the decade

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