Nova Scotia RCMP street check apology needed, says minister who cites own experience
September 21, 2023 By The Canadian Press
Sep. 21, 2023, Halifax, N.S. – The RCMP’s promise to apologize for street checks that targeted Black people is being welcomed by the new African Nova Scotian Affairs minister, but she says she is more interested in what it will mean for future police conduct.
Twila Grosse says she has first-hand experience: she was pulled over by police during a traffic stop in Halifax for “no particular reason” about 20 years ago.
Grosse told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday the experience was “quite intimidating.”
“Why, what did I do, what’s wrong?” she said, describing the thoughts she said she had at the time. The minister said there was “no doubt in my mind” she was pulled over because she was a Black driver.
Grosse said she’s looking forward to seeing how the Black community engages with a promised consultation process ahead of the RCMP apology planned for next year, adding that a police plan of action after that will be important.
“An apology is great but what comes after that?” she asked. “What is the plan of action going forward? Sometimes we see that apologies can be hollow, so how do we move forward?”
The RCMP have said they plan to issue the apology and a follow-up action plan after they hold a series of 14 meetings with Black community members.
Grosse said the apology should have come much sooner. “I guess we should be happy that they’ve recognized that it’s something that needs to be done,” she said. “Why it took so long I have no idea.”
Street checks, which are now banned in Nova Scotia, occur when police stop people on the street to record their personal information.
A formal apology for street checks was offered to the province’s Black community by the chief of Halifax Regional Police in November 2019, but the RCMP didn’t offer an immediate apology of their own.
In an interview Wednesday, the commander of Nova Scotia RCMP – assistant commissioner Dennis Daley – said he has realized since assuming the job in late 2022 that his force has a lot of work to do to rebuild trust with Black citizens.
Daley said the upcoming discussions with the community will include ways that police engage with Black citizens, including during traffic stops and when officers issue tickets.
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