The Workers Action Centre – Halifax stands in solidarity with people across the country, continent and world who have gathered in opposition to the horrific killing of George Floyd and so many Black, Indigenous and other racialized people by police. We support calls for immediate government action to stop the killing, including defunding police. In the fight for workers’ rights, we recognize that an injury to one is an injury to all. Systemic racism must be confronted as part of the struggle against all forms of oppression.
Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous racism is a deeply rooted, systemic crisis in Canada, in which police killings are the most severe consequence. Police have demonstrated a gross abuse of their power, in targeting particularly Black and Indigenous people, and with deadly violence. In 2018, the Ontario Human Rights Commission reported that a Black person is 20 times more likely to be killed by police than a white person. In April of this year, 3 Indigenous people were killed by Winnipeg police in just 10 days. Another Indigenous woman, Chantel Moore, was killed by New Brunswick police on June 4 during a wellness check for which Chantel was the person in need of protection.
Racial profiling must also be confronted. The 2019 Wortly report called out Halifax police for racial profiling, but this has not resulted in meanigful changes. In Halifax, Santina Rao was racially profiled by Walmart security in early 2020. The incident resulted in her being surrounded by 6 armed police officers in addition to security guards accusing her of shoplifting. She suffered injuries as they violently arrested her. These and many more incidents are the byproducts of an unjust system that must change.
In aiming to stem the crisis of police targeting and killing Black and Indigenous and other racialized people, we join the opposition to ballooning police budgets and deployment of police to deal with mental health or any other issues that are best dealt with by communities directly. Police showing up to a call about a family dispute in Toronto, which ended with a Black-Indigenous woman, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, falling 24 stories to her death, should never have happened. Similarly, providing Halifax Regional Police with a $300,000 armoured vehicle, while systemic racial injustice persists, demonstrates misplaced priorities. Resources for community health and safety should be provided directly to Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, not police.