For Demario Chambers, Tuesday morning’s walk to school was unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
In February, the 16-year-old was arrested by police and allegedly racially profiled at Bedford Place Mall.
“I didn’t really do anything so I didn’t know why they were there,” said Demario, who’s heading into Grade 11 at Charles P. Allen High School.
“Then things turned to other things and I got assaulted by the cops for doing nothing.”
Demario was cuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser. Police say the arrest is under investigation, but so far there has been no further discipline.
“I just want to get justice for the situation and help other people that this might happen to, or anyone else who might go through experiences like this,” said Demario.
And that’s why on Tuesday – Demario’s first day back to school – the community wanted to show that they’ve got his back.
Game Changers 902 – a grassroots organization whose goal is to unite African Nova Scotian culture and history – got the community together Tuesday morning to walk Demario to class.
“I could tell that he was genuinely very happy inside and enthused to see that all these people came out to support him,” said DeRico Symonds with Game Changers 902. “Today was a light, a shining light.”
“He is just a kid, and he’s standing up against huge systems of oppression and speaking out against racism that he is personally facing, and that takes a lot of courage,” said Kate MacDonald with Game Changers 902. “Folks wanted to stand in solidarity with him, and I think that’s exactly what happened here this morning.”
Symonds says Demario’s strong family ties are helping him move past the incident.
“Both of his parents show up, they support, they support other movements, and they have their child’s back. And they’re willing to do whatever needs to happen for change,” said Symonds. “He has a beautiful family and a beautiful supportive family behind him.”
As for Demario, he’s looking for police officers to step up and take accountability.
“I haven’t seen any of them say, ‘Yeah, we messed up,’ or, ‘We did this wrong, we apologize.’ They’ve got to be more educated,” he said.
“It feels great to know the community’s here to back me up, and we’re standing for something, and that’s always a great thing.”