Advertisement
Canada

Rally to end street checks held in Halifax following release of damning report

WATCH: Protesters gathered in Halifax on Saturday to call on the city to end the controversial practice of street checks. Whitney Oickle reports.

About 100 protesters united on Saturday to call for an end to street checks in Halifax, after a report found black people were street checked at a rate six times higher than white people in the city.

READ MORE: Report recommends Halifax police’s street checks program be limited or banned

A public meeting was held at the library on Gottingen Street in the afternoon, where residents discussed the recently-released 180-page report from Scot Wortley, a criminology professor at the University of Toronto.

The report was commissioned by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in 2017 after a United Nations working group raised serious concerns regarding systemic discrimination and racial profiling in police street checks in Nova Scotia.

“I believe that this narrative, this moment and these findings are bigger than any political party and bigger than any one person,” said local advocate DeRico Symonds.

Story continues below advertisement

“This report has brought to light a much-needed discussion and a much-needed engagement from all the Halifax community.”

Tweet This

WATCH: Chief Jean-Michel Blais on street checks 

Jean-Michel Blais on street checks and becoming the face of PTSD
Jean-Michel Blais on street checks and becoming the face of PTSD

Street checks, also known as carding, refers to the police technique of stopping people when no specific offence is being investigated, questioning them and recording their information.

Wortley found that street checks have “contributed to the criminalization of black youth, eroded trust in law enforcement and undermined the perceived legitimacy of the entire criminal justice system.” He recommended the practice be limited or banned.

The report examined data from both the Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP, which patrols certain parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, between 2006 and 2017.

Following the release of the report, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey directed police forces across the province to immediately cease using street checks — but only for “quota” or data purposes.

READ MORE: N.S. justice minister orders police to end street checks as ‘quota’ system or ‘performance tools’

But those at Saturday’s rally said that’s not enough.

“I’m disappointed when I [look] at my young folks here. We want a better tomorrow for them and we want a better tomorrow right now. We’re not talking about decades of waiting for change, we’re talking about sustainable, tangible change right now,” said one of the organizers, Kate MacDonald.

After the meeting at the library, protesters marched to the Halifax Regional Police station, then down Barrington Street to the courthouse on Spring Garden Road.

Story continues below advertisement
Protesters calling for the end to street checks gather outside Halifax Regional Police headquarters on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Protesters calling for the end to street checks gather outside Halifax Regional Police headquarters on Saturday, March 30, 2019. Whitney Oickle / Global News

Halifax police officers were on hand during the peaceful protest, which lasted about 60 minutes. Officers say there were no issues.

— With files from The Canadian Press and Whitney Oickle.