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Police 'don't want to work with us': boxer Kirk Johnson slams response to street checks report

Black people in the Halifax Regional Municipality are six times as likely to be stopped by police as their white counterparts
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(Dave Heintzman/HalifaxToday.ca)

In 2003, a Nova Scotia tribunal found Halifax Police discriminated against boxer Kirk Johnson when he was pulled over and had his car taken away in 1998.

One of the remedies recommended by the tribunal was a traffic stop study, but that was never conducted, until the HRP released a report on race and police street checks in 2017 following inquiries by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Subsequently, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission authorized an independent report by Professor Scot Wortley of the University of Toronto to study 12 years of data on street checks in the HRM collected between 2006 and 2017.

The overarching conclusion reached in that report was that according to a thorough analysis of the data, African Nova Scotians were six times more likely to be street checked than their white counterparts.

Now, more than two decades after being stopped by police, Johnson has harsh words for how the latest report on street checks has been received.

"I would say right now, they need to be stopped until they get a good regulation," says Johnson, adding the black community has been telling people about this kind of racially biased treatment for years.

He refers to street checks as harassment, and feels the police don't want to work with the black community.

"I hope up here don't become like some of the places we hear in Canada, and the place that we hear in the USA where black men are getting shot all the time, I don't want to get to that point," says Johnson. "I'm afraid of that."

Johnson tells NEWS 95.7 he's scared for his kids, and he tells them to record any interactions they have with police.

"And this is the same complaint that members of my community, and other blacks around have been having, we call it racism, you have to give your licence, you have to give your insurance, you have to give everything," says Johnson. "At the end of the day, it feels like you're harassing us, it is harassment, and we don't like it, and it needs to be stopped."

Johnson remembers his dad fighting for equal rights when he was a kid in hopes he would grow up in a better world, and all these years later, he says they are still dealing with the same issues.

He says the reaction from the law enforcement community "just shows the police department right now don't want to work with us."

"This time around, hopefully because of these numbers, the next few years these numbers can change," says Johnson. "And they can come up with different rules, and different situations to let police officers know you have to be fair, bottom line."

The report can be found HERE.




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