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Protest organizers say there's reason for optimism, but still plenty of work to do to combat racism
HALIFAX -- An anti-racism rally in Halifax on Monday evening brought a large crowd to the streets to peacefully protest police brutality.
Organizers say, while they were happy with the support of local police and politicians, there is still work to be done.
Thousands gathered on Halifax's Spring Garden Road to protest police brutality and some members of the local police took a knee among them.
"There's always stress when you have an event, that there's going to be something that happens with the police, especially an event that is addressing police brutality and injustice," said Kate MacDonald, one of the event's organizers. "But they gave us a bit of breathing room, which was a nice support for sure."
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella was among those present at the rally. While he declined an interview on Tuesday, Kinsella took to Twitter to show his support, writing:
But MacDonald says the work towards rebuilding the relationship between Halifax police and African Nova Scotians is just beginning.
"I think that there are some things that need to be re-evaluated before our community comes back whole-heartedly to sit at the table. I want to know that the police are even interested or invested in keeping black people safe."
A petition calling for police to reconsider the use of body cameras has now garnered more than 8,000 signatures in just two days.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage hasn't ruled it out.
"It's a tough year cost-wise, but it's certainly something that I'm prepared to consider," Savage said. "I'm sure that members of the Police Commission, the chief of police, and others are willing to consider that and see if it's one of the things we can do to show that we're serious about addressing a very serious issue."
MacDonald urges supporters to contact their local officials, to make sure that the demands of the protest are met going forward
"Implement a timeline for the Halifax Regional Police to implement the Wortley Report recommendations," MacDonald said. "Two, we can look at reducing and reallocating funding from the Halifax Regional Police. The city has a lot of other issues that could use that financial support, and also holding our politicians and police force accountable to telling the truth and being transparent."
Savage said that anti-black racism isn't just an issue in the U.S. -- it's also an issue in Canada. He says he felt he needed to ''take a knee'' quietly with everyone else on Monday night and he says he was glad he was there.
The mayor agrees there are areas to improve upon.
"I think there's things as a city that we and I can do, to provide more opportunities for African Nova Scotians, to look at major projects, particularly in historically black areas."
He said more can be done to honour the heritage of African Nova Scotians and make sure that the community is involved in that.
"I think we all need to look at what we can do individually to make things better," Savage said.
MacDonald says she has some reason for optimism.
"It feels like there's a rumble of change," she said. "Where that goes, no one can really be sure yet. How that's going to look, no one can be sure yet, but I feel there is definitely an opportunity with folks being engaged, and we can't really turn a blind eye to thousands coming out to support black lives."