Black people in Halifax 6 times more likely to be street checked than whites

Not unique to Halifax:

A new report released Wednesday on racial profiling by Halifax-area police found black people were street checked at a rate six times higher than white people in Halifax.

The independent report found that in Halifax, the odds of being stopped for a street check were highest for black men, followed by Arab males and black females.

The number is about double the CBC News estimate that triggered this review. The new report comes more than two years after data showed black people were three times more likely than whites to be subjected to the controversial practice in the municipality.

The report by Scot Wortley, a University of Toronto criminology professor, also found that police in the Halifax region do more street checks than police in Montreal, Vancouver or Ottawa. There were comparable rates in Edmonton and Calgary.

Street checks allow police officers to document information about a person they believe could be of significance to a future investigation, and record details such as their ethnicity, gender, age and location.

In Halifax, the odds of being stopped for a street check were highest for black people, followed by Arab and west Asian people. (CBC )

The 180-page report also found the practice of street checks has a disproportionate and negative impact on the African Nova Scotia community, contributing to the criminalization of black youth.

Wortley reported that black community members interviewed for the study said they are afraid of police, they feel targeted by police, and they are treated rudely and aggressively. They also said police treatment of black people has not improved significantly in the past 20 years.

Blacks more likely to be charged

Wortley was hired by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in 2017 after a report from Halifax RCMP in January of that year found that in the first 10 months of 2016, 41 per cent of 1,246 street checks involved black Nova Scotians.

Halifax Regional Police figures showed that of the roughly 37,000 people checked between 2005 and 2016, almost 4,100 were black — about 11 per cent of checks — despite making up only 3.59 per cent of the city’s population, according to the 2011 census.

In what Wortley described as a “difficult statistic,” the report showed that 30 per cent of Halifax’s black male population had been charged with a crime, as opposed with 6.8 per cent of the white male population, over that period.

Wortley said this likely means black people are more likely to be charged for the same behaviour than white people. The charge rate for black males with cannabis offences was four times higher than for white males, even though there’s no evidence that black people use more cannabis than white people.

He said police street checks have contributed to an erosion of trust in law enforcement and undermined the perceived legitimacy of the entire criminal justice system.

Wortley presented several recommendations including that street checks must be banned or at least regulated.

He said it’s clear that street checks have a disproportionate effect on the black Nova Scotia community and consequences of current street check use “clearly outweigh and crime prevention benefits.”

Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard said she supports stopping the practice of street checks.

“The rest of Canada will be watching what happens here,” she told an audience gathered at the Halifax Central Library, where the report was unveiled.

‘Anti-black bias’

Lindell Smith, the first black city councillor elected in Halifax in 16 years, said in a statement on his website that he hopes this is an opportunity to “repair the broken relationship with the black community and our police force.”

“As a member of the African Nova Scotian community, I certainly do not need Dr. Wortley’s report to tell me that for decades the community has felt that there is anti-black bias, and racial profiling when policing black communities. I hope that with the release of this report that we as the black community don’t see this as a ‘I told you so’ moment,” he said.

Smith said he’s been stopped many times by police, both while driving and walking in the Halifax area. He said in those instances he had the felling of “humiliation and being racially profiled.”

Across Canada, the report found the average annual street check rate was highest in Toronto, with Halifax in second place. Despite an overall reduction in street checks in Halifax in recent years, Wortley says the over-representation of minorities has remained constant.

Ontario banned police carding in specific situations in 2017 — a controversial practice that is similar to street checks.

However, Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais has argued in the past that the valid street checks performed by police officers in Halifax differ from the random stops or carding practices that are now restricted in Ontario.

Source: Black people in Halifax 6 times more likely to be street checked than whites

Fewer street checks in Halifax but black people still more likely to be stopped

Good municipal level data:

Halifax Regional Police are performing fewer street checks but new numbers released by the force show that visible minorities, especially black people, are still more likely to be stopped by an officer.

The data shows street checks dropped by 28 per cent between 2017 and 2018, part of a continuous decline since 2012.

Despite that decrease, a CBC News analysis of the data found black people were four times more likely to be street checked than white people in 2017 and 2018.

People identified by police as Arab or West Asian were nearly three times more likely to be street checked.

The figures “are alarming in the sense that they’re very high,” said Michael Kempa, chair of criminology at the University of Ottawa.

“It’s not a morally good thing. But they’re consistent with the numbers right across the country.”

In Halifax, police checks can take one of two forms: a face-to-face interaction between police and an individual or group, or observations made at a distance. The figures released by police don’t differentiate between the two.

Checks are recorded with details such as age, gender, location, reason and ethnicity.

CBC’s analysis was based on 4,579 people who were street checked a single time by police between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2018.

Kempa said similar studies from other Canadian cities have shown visible minorities are street checked at three to four times the rate of whites. ​

“Looking at [CBC’s] statistical analysis, you made conservative assumptions in your data,” he said. “So if anything, you’re underestimating slightly.”

‘Still the target’

Ashley Taylor, who’s black and works as a support worker for African-Nova Scotian high school students, said street checks make him feel like “an enemy.”

He said he believes he draws police attention attention because he’s black, wears his hair in dreadlocks and drives a Mercedes Coupe. His job as a social worker often takes him to higher-crime areas of the city.

CBC News interviewed Taylor in January 2017 when a different CBC analysis showed black people were 3.2 times more likely to be street checked than whites between 2005 and 2016.

At that time, Taylor said he was being street checked approximately three times a year. Since then, Taylor said he’s been street checked maybe once.

“The frequency [of street checks] might have changed, but the stats are still the same,” he said. “I guess we’re still the target.”

Following CBC’s street check coverage in 2017, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission hired criminologist Scot Wortley from the University of Toronto to study how street checks impact visible minority populations in Halifax.

His study is scheduled for release on March 27.

The Halifax Regional Police said it would not grant any interviews before the report’s release.

“Out of respect for Dr. Wortley’s process, we are not commenting on issues related to street checks,” said spokesperson Const. John MacLeod.

Fear of complaints

Kempa attributes the overall decline in street checks to a number of factors.

“Street checks … have really leapt into the public consciousness. People have become sensitized to it and aware that there’s something not quite right going on there. They’re more adamant about pushing their rights with police officers,” he said.

Individual officers may be less likely to stop and question citizens because they’re worried about complaints being filed against them, said Kempa.

“They’re tending to pull back a little bit in engaging the public at all, most especially with a formal street check.”

Taylor’s experiences with street checks have left him hyper-vigilant when he’s behind the wheel. He said he switched from driving a white car to a black one to “blend in and stay under the radar.”

If he notices a police car around, Taylor assumes he’s being followed.

“Is that me thinking, that I guess, I’m losing my mind?” he said.

“It’s not. It’s just something that, you know, your sixth sense takes over, and those are the things that you feel while you’re driving … It just feels like it’s very tough sometimes to be who you just want to be.”

Source: Fewer street checks in Halifax but black people still more likely to be stopped

Halifax legion bars group that questions immigration, multiculturalism | The Chronicle Herald

Quite a change from the Legion opposition to Sikh Canadians wearing turbans a generation ago:

A Calgary-based group with controversial views on immigration and multiculturalism is no longer allowed to host a town hall at a Royal Canadian Legion in Halifax.

The National Citizens Alliance was set to host its meeting at a legion branch in Halifax’s north end Friday evening, but the event was cancelled by the legion Thursday.

“The original booking was made by an individual for a private function. When RCL Branch 27 learned that the booking was intended as a town hall meeting for the National Citizens Alliance, the booking was cancelled,” Valerie Mitchell-Veinotte, executive director of the Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command, told Global News.

The alliance promotes the idea of “integration” of new arrivals into what it calls the “basic cultural norms of Canada” and a belief that political correctness threatens Canada’s identity and culture.

The group said Friday it had further been banned from meeting at a church hall and a Halifax hotel, and now plans to hold a rally at a downtown park.

It had also recently been banned from participating in the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, whose organizers apologized on Sunday after the NCA walked in its parade.

“We apologize to anyone who may have felt unsafe at the Grand Street Parade because of this political party’s attendance and derogatory messaging,” organizers of the week-long festival in Kentville, N.S., said in a statement.

Stephen Garvey, leader of the NCA, said on Thursday that he rejects the characterization of the party, adding that no one in his party made hateful comments or uttered any hate speech.

Garvey added his party doesn’t tolerate racism, and argued that his organization was taking part in the parade just like other political parties were. The NCA is not an officially registered party but has committed to running candidates in the 2019 federal election.

“They’re the ones dividing people,” he said. “If we offended people, that’s their problem, not ours. As far as we’re concerned, we probably added some nice spice to the festival.”

Garvey said the group wanted to host a town hall at the Halifax legion to clear up the confusion that has plagued the group since it made headlines with its role in the apple blossom festival.

Garvey told Global News that organizers had called the legion on Thursday morning to confirm the booking.

“They had actually confirmed it with us,” Garvey said. “Then someone higher up said no.”

Among the group’s core tenets is the goal of implementing a “strong no nonsense immigration policy that puts the well-being and safety of the Canadian people first and implementing a temporary pause and substantial reduction in immigration.”

via Halifax legion bars group that questions immigration, multiculturalism | The Chronicle Herald

Black people 3 times more likely to be street checked in Halifax, police say

Not surprisingly but still alarming and similar data to that of other cities such as Toronto:

Ashley Taylor tenses up every time he sees a police cruiser because he knows what could be coming next.

“Being pulled over by the police for me,” the Nova Scotia resident said, taking a pause, “it’s normal.”

Taylor, 42, estimates he has been stopped by police an average of three times a year. The student support worker at Dartmouth High School in said it usually happens on his drive to work.

“Is it racial profiling? Possibly.”

He’s not surprised to hear a CBC News Investigation finding that Halifax police are more likely to stop and check people who are black.

In fact, according to information released by Halifax Regional Police, black people are three times more likely to be the subject of a so-called street check than white individuals.


Halifax Regional Police began recording data of street checks in 2005. (CBC)

Street checks are used to “look at individuals who are doing suspicious activity,” said police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.

Source: Black people 3 times more likely to be street checked in Halifax, police say – Nova Scotia – CBC News

Nova Scotia premier to discuss statue Mi’kmaq community says is racist

Another example of significant historical figures and their mixed legacy viewed through contemporary eyes (e.g., the Princeton Woodrow Wilson controversy).

In general, rather than moving the statue ‘out of sight,’ it might be better to have an interpretative plaque that provides a more complete picture of his role and actions.

A learning opportunity for all that recognizes the Mi’kmaq’s valid concerns:

Nova Scotia’s premier says he will discuss options for a statue of Halifax city founder Edward Cornwallis that the Mi’kmaq community has long argued is racist.

A spokeswoman for Stephen McNeil says the premier plans to meet with Halifax Mayor Mike Savage to discuss the statue, which has stood in a downtown park for more than 80 years.

Mi’kmaq elder Daniel Paul says although Cornwallis is the city’s founder, he also issued a scalping proclamation in 1749 that offered a cash bounty for anyone who killed Mi’kmaq men, women and children.

Paul says his goal is not to erase Cornwallis from history books, but to strike a compromise that recognizes the atrocities he committed.

He says he would like to see the statue removed from the park and placed in the depths of the Citadel Hill fortress.

About four years ago, a local junior high school stripped Cornwallis from their name amid concerns from the Mi’kmaq community.

Source: Nova Scotia premier to discuss statue Mi’kmaq community says is racist –