The Halifax Regional Municipality has rejected its decision to purchase an armored rescue vehicle following calls to defuse and demilitarize the police to address the issue of police brutality and mistreatment of African Nova Scotians, indigenous peoples and other colored people.
On Tuesday, Halifax Regional Council sunk the purchase of the $ 368,000 armored rescue vehicle that was ordered last October to be used in extreme conditions such as rescues and tactical arrests. The $ 500,000 approved for the purchase was returned to the city’s fleet reserve.
The council also allocated $ 300,000 from a separate reserve to support anti-racism efforts and initiatives against blacks, and added $ 53,500 for programming the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Office, and $ 25,000 for special projects at the Public Safety Bureau and added $ 11,000 to support community public safety strategies.
Count. Waye Mason said HRM council members had received more than 800 emails and calls in the past week about the vehicle and police defunding in general.
Mason said the spate of phone calls and emails and the watch of recent events in the United States caused him and other city councilors to reconsider buying the armored vehicle.
“I think we were all horrified to watch American history unfold. I would not accept the extremely overwhelming violent response from the American police in Halifax or Canada, ”he said.
“Those trucks, just a year ago, I was like, ‘Well, the pictures we saw in Ferguson, this won’t go on,’ and here we see it in dozens of cities in America, and I don’t know why the civilian police in Halifax need this ability. ”
“Offensive Skills” Concerns
Community representative Tari Ajadi said he was concerned about the armored vehicle’s “plethora of offensive capabilities” and “very happy” that city councilors are reconsidering its purchase.
“It’s very much a preparatory step, if you can even call it that, but it’s a good step,” he said.
The Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia, which privately sponsors, resettles, and advocates LGBTQI + refugees in the province, along with many others, urged the city government to reconsider purchasing the armored vehicle.
“It’s very much a preliminary step, if you can even call it that, but it’s a good step.”
– Local attorney Tari Ajadi
Emma Cameron of the association said they were “very concerned” about how a “heavy police presence” could affect the refugees they sponsored, many of whom are black or colored, and for whom they are striving to ensure they get into one “Safe” state come in. ”
“With an over-militarized police force, we only see escalating police brutality, especially against black people, which is why we are taking the stance we have taken,” she said.
The association was also concerned about how the sight of an armored vehicle could “bring back traumatic memories” to the refugees it sponsored as many of them fled war zones, added Cameron.
Halifax psychologist Lesley Hartman similarly said she could see the armored vehicle causing “flashbacks and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder” in refugees and others who have been in war zones. She said more needs to be discussed about trauma and its effects.
“I think … our decision-makers often do not make decisions in a trauma-informed manner, even though they probably make them with the very best of intentions, and in fact they sometimes make those decisions from one place.” Of their own trauma, “she said, citing examples the recent mass shootings in Nova Scotia and the 2014 Moncton shooting.
Lawyers are calling for further action
Ajadi said he hoped city councils would continue to think about the Halifax Regional Police budget and “keep thinking about what community safety could mean” and consider investing in affordable housing, food security, recreational facilities and schools, as opposed to “A certain way of the police”. Funding and police surveillance. ”
Community representative El Jones said it was too early to celebrate that the council changed their minds on the armored vehicle as questions remain, such as what exactly the city’s public safety strategy will include and what kind of Anti-black racism initiatives will be funded, indicating that they should be useful and relevant to community members, including Nova Scotians of Africa.
Jones added, while she appreciates council members reconsidering the decision to purchase the armored vehicle, more changes remain to be made.
“I think it’s really important right now that we don’t lose focus and don’t let these little gestures and reforms put us off because lives are literally at stake,” she said.
“Black people die every day in the city because they don’t have access to the things they need. Black people live in terrible health, black people are in pain, black people are abandoning their family members. This is literally life or death and too important to play around with and say, ‘Well, maybe next time.’ ”
With files from Francis Campbell