Halifax police have lost credibility with Black community: human rights lawyer
After community meetings about street checks, a lawyer with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission says, 'There’s zero trust' of the police.
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Police in Halifax have lost their credibility with the Black community, according to a lawyer with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC).
The NSHRC gave a presentation to the Halifax board of police commissioners on Monday, updating them on the progress of Dr. Scot Wortley’s review of street check data in the municipality.
Police define street checks, often referred to as carding, as “when an officer either observes somebody or something going on or has an interaction or conversation with someone” and then records it in a form, which is entered into a database.
Wortley was hired by the NSHRC this fall to review data released earlier this year that found that Black people in HRM were three times more likely than white people to be street checked.
Last month, the NSHRC held meetings with Black communities in Halifax, Cherry Brook and North Preston about street checks.
NSHRC lawyer Kimberley Franklin, who went to the meetings, described them as heated.
Franklin repeated a few stories told to her at the meetings: one of a man who was stopped by police leaving the skating oval, carrying his skates. Another of a man who’s stopped once a month, sometimes once a week.
Board commissioner Carlos Beals asked Franklin if she believed police were “losing credibility within the African Nova Scotian community as it relates to carding?”
“I think the proper way to phrase it is not ‘losing credibility,’ you’ve lost credibility in these communities,” Franklin replied.
“There’s zero trust. When you talk about people who are getting pulled over and saying they have to freeze in their vehicles and put their hands on the steering wheel because they’re scared to make any movement whatsoever, I’m pretty sure that means the police have lost credibility with that community.”
Franklin said the current timeline on Wortley’s final report, tentatively due next fall, is not set in stone, and she wants the NSHRC to take its time to get it right.
“If we do not do this right, then we’re failing the community, we’re failing the police and we’re failing the commission,” she said.