For Immediate Release
Friday, March 19, 2021
Thirteen community organizations call on government to ban illegal practice on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
For far too many years, the African Nova Scotian community has been calling for an end to the illegal practice of police street checks.
After countless reviews, reports and public meetings, the Nova Scotia government finally directed police to end the practice in October of 2019. But there was a glaring exception to the directive: police were still permitted to conduct street checks if they judged that an individual was involved in “suspicious activity.”
This exception, which Vanessa Fells of the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition (ANSDPAD) rightly calls a “grey area for allowing street checks to continue,” is the latest in a long history of racist justifications for discriminatory policing.
Street checks are a clear message from the state about who can be made to feel they belong in a community, and who cannot. Ending street checks is about being allowed to feel safe from harassment; about not being presumed guilty for the colour of your skin.
Evidence has clearly shown that Black people living in Nova Scotia are heavily, disproportionately targeted by police street checks. African Nova Scotian and Black communities should not have to continually expend energy fighting for an end to this practice.
This Sunday, March 21st, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day commemorates the massacre of 69 citizens in Sharpeville, South Africa, who had gathered to protest pass laws under apartheid — laws which systematically restricted the free movement of Black South Africans.
It would be fitting if Premier Iain Rankin and Justice Minister Randy Delorey marked this day by announcing an end to the “suspicious activity” exception that continues to restrict the free movement of Black people in Nova Scotia.
Grandmothers & Water Protectors of Treaty Truckhouse #2 Society
Got Your Back Association
Indigenous African Nova Scotian Elders
African United Baptist Association – Social Justice Committee Chair, Lana M. MacLean