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Open letter regarding the recent treatment of Kayla Borden, who was racially profiled and arrested at the hands of Halifax Regional Police

A Response to: “Halifax Woman profiled and arrested by Halifax Regional Police”

On behalf of the members of the Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia (JCANS), we wish to express our displeasure and outrage at the unfair arrest and treatment of KAYLA BORDEN by the Halifax Regional Police. She is a valued member of our Association.  This was a blatant case of Anti-Black Racism manifested so egregiously in characteristic Racial Profiling in street checks by law enforcement agencies in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Report on Street Checks and Racial Profiling (March 29, 2019) states that: “black persons are six times more likely to be stopped and arrested by the Police than are white persons in this Province”.

It is indeed ironic that the Halifax Police Chief apologized for this damning statistic – an alarming admission.

Our prayers and full support are with Kayla at this time as she tries to make sense of this traumatic confrontation in our city which has impacted her life at all levels personal, emotional, spiritual, and physical. 

 As reported in the Halifax Examiner by EL Jones July 28, 2020 under the exact caption:” Halifax woman racially profiled and arrested after Halifax Regional Police say they were chasing a “white man in a Toyota.”

“Borden says she was driving home at around 12:50 am, when she reached the intersection of Cuddy Lane and Windmill Road at around 1:00 am, she paused to wait for a police wagon which had pulled up diagonally alongside her car.” The lights (on the wagon) were not on, which I thought was weird, so I waited about 10 seconds, and then about 5-6 more cop cars came out of nowhere and swarmed me in the intersection from all directions. Two white officers approached me, I could not see if they had their guns out or not. They yelled “Put your hands on the steering wheel.” I was so scared wondering what was going on. After I put my hands on the wheel, the same cop immediately started yelling at me to get out of the car. I had my window rolled down, and he grabbed open my car door. He pulled me out of the car and told me,” You’re under arrest.” They put me in handcuffs. I was asking, “For what?” He told me,” We will see in a minute.”  Borden, an African Nova Scotian woman says that all the officers were white, and only one officer was a woman. She says another officer approached her and began questioning her. He asked,” Do you know why we pulled you over? “I said that I didn’t, He said: “You didn’t have your lights on for a bit.” I told him that I did have my lights on, and then he said that I did not pull over when he put on his lights. I told him that I did pull over, five minutes before when a cop car came up behind me on Bedford Highway. Then he asked me what kind of car I drive, and I responded, He said ”We were on a high speed chase with a white guy in a Toyota” I drive a Dodge Avenger, and obviously, I am not a white man. Borden says the officer who arrested her then said,” You are un-arrested.” However, even though she was told she was no longer being detained, another officer still took her license, registration, and insurance information while she was still surrounded by three police cars. She was then instructed to move her car to the side of the road, and after waiting for her belongings to be returned, the officer with her identification told her “Sorry, have a good night.” Borden was unable to sleep after the incident, and wonders what could have happened if she had been slow to put her hands on the wheel or if she had reached for her phone”

We call upon the Halifax Police Chief, and the Mayor of Halifax, to take” Anti-Black Racism, and Racial Profiling”, very seriously, and to do everything in their power to rid our city of this inhuman scourge. Kayla was targeted because of the colour of her skin, and not for any infraction she committed. Incidents like these are soul-destroying and undermine the individual’s human rights to enjoy the God given right to freedom of movement, freedom to breathe the same air as everyone else, and the right to be “innocent until proven guilty”. This kind of treatment undermines public confidence in the fair administration of justice. Kayla was first arrested, then un-arrested without charge, she had to endure the trauma and indignity of being stopped and hand cuffed. This was indeed a case of “driving while black”. The explanations for this arrest are neither valid nor credible.

The Police Department needs enhanced training in cultural awareness, racial sensitivity, de-escalation practices, and needs to put in place mechanisms for significantly ameliorating community- police relations, especially when dealing with people of colour.  

Let us vow to give everybody respect, let us give peace and unity a chance. We are stronger together. On August 1, 1834 enslaved Africans in Canada and all countries of the former British Empire were freed. 186 years later, is time enough for all forms of discrimination against Black people in Canada to end; and efforts focussed on building a united country distinguished by human rights for all, justice, and peace.

Sincerely.

T. Olive Phillips

JCANS President.

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2 Comments

  1. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty.
    Being un- arrested means that at one point you should have been arrested in .the first place. What was the charge?
    Indeed in this case Kayla deserves a formal apology from the Halifax PD
    And perhaps the Mayor of HRM. I am at a loss as to how this could happen.
    Too quick on the trigger!!

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