Haligonians protest police brutality on Halifax Regional Police's doorstep
HALIFAX -- People of all ages gathered outside the Halifax Regional Police station Sunday, part of a peaceful demonstration called Taking Back the Streets with Joy.
"It's important for any of us to be here because I think that it's very important that when people are beaten down, and people feel beaten down, we show that we can rise up and come back," said El Jones.
Organizer Kate MacDonald says demonstrators were raising concerns about alleged police brutality, specifically in the African Nova Scotian community.
The demonstration comes a week after a video surfaced that appears to show a confrontation between Halifax Police and a 15-year-old boy in Bedford. His cell phone camera recorded video as he was being arrested.
"What would you do if this was your kid? This our kid; this is our child. He is our child, you know, and what would you do if this was your kid, what would you want the community to do for you," said MacDonald.
Less than two months ago, a Halifax woman alleged she was racially profiled and injured while she was being arrested at a local Walmart.
"We had obviously the Santino Rao arrest and assault in Walmart; we have a 15-year-old child being assaulted. We don't know whose going to be next, a toddler, a pregnant woman, so every time we're going to come out and show that we're not going to take this," added Jones.
Demonstrators say fundamental changes are needed in the way Halifax police deal with the Black community.
"The things that we're asking for, they're not crazy. We're asking to be treated respectfully and to be treated properly. With the things that have been happening over the past year, over the past couple weeks, it's unacceptable at this point – it's just unacceptable," said Derico Symonds.
Some at the demonstration had personal stories to share.
"When I was 16 years old, down by Saint Mary's University, I was beaten by police. I was arrested, and I was put back in a police officer car, handcuffs, everything, brought here, and yeah, it's not right the same stuff is happening to a 15-year-old," said Trayvone Clayton.
CTV News reached out to Halifax police Chief Dan Kinsella for comment on the demonstration, but he was unavailable.
In a statement, the force said in part: "We respect the public's right to a peaceful protest," said Staff Sgt. Scott MacDonald.
"Halifax Regional Police takes pride in serving our community with dedication and professionalism. We are continually listening to community members, and hold ourselves accountable to improve the trust and confidence of communities we serve."
Despite police statements, demonstrators say police need more training.
"It's upsetting that some people don't even see this or don't even find this as a problem. Some people think this is 'oh, he deserved it' or that person's being dramatic whose reporting this, but this stuff happens to us every day – every day throughout Nova Scotia," said Clayton.
A clear message on a cold Sunday – delivered at the front door of the local police force.