Nova Scotia

Anti-racism rally held after a black man was shot in the back with nail gun

People gathered on Monday to rally in support of a 21-year-old man who was shot in the back with a nail gun on the job, in what he alleges was the culmination of racism and bullying in the workplace.

'We're tired. Our youth are tired. And we're done watching us die,' says organizer

People gathered in New Glasgow on Monday, Oct. 8, to protest the treatment of 21-year-old Nhlanhla Dlamini who was shot in the back with a nail gun in the workplace on Sept. 19 in Abercrombie, N.S. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

People gathered in New Glasgow, N.S., on Monday to rally in support of a 21-year-old man who was shot in the back with a nail gun on the job, in what he alleges was the culmination of racism and bullying by a colleague. 

Nhlanhla Dlamini said a co-worker intentionally shot him with a 3 ½-inch framing nail that punctured his lung, after weeks of racist name calling and harassment from the man.

Last week, the RCMP charged Shawn Wade Hynes, 43, with criminal negligence causing bodily harm and released him on conditions to have no contact with the victim.

Angee Bowden said she organized the protest after she saw people across Canada demanding justice for Dlamini.

"We're tired. Our youth are tired. And we're done watching us die," said Bowden.

Craig Clarke, a lawyer for Dlamini's employer, P.Q. Properties Ltd., owned by property developer Paul Quinn, has vigorously maintained the Sept. 19 nail gun shooting was an accident, dismissing the police investigation as "ridiculous."

In a Sept. 23 interview, four days after the incident, Clarke disputed that Dlamini was seriously injured.

"My understanding is that it was literally — even after she took him to the hospital that night — that it was literally treated with a Band-Aid," said Clarke. 

Angee Bowden organized a march in support of Nhlanhla Dlamini in New Glasgow on Monday. She said she didn't want the anger about the violence he faced to only remain around kitchen tables. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

Bowden, who grew up in New Glasgow, said black communities have experienced racism too often.

She said she wanted the protest to show youth in Nova Scotia that they have the power to create change.

"They do have rights and they do have power," said Bowden.

In a speech in Africentric Heritage Park on Vale Road, human rights advocate Raymond Sheppard said racism in Nova Scotia and across Canada can be compared to the southern United States in the 1950s.

Human rights advocate Raymond Sheppard says he plans to seek accountability from the provincial government in a protest at Africentric Heritage Park in New Glasgow. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

"It is very disheartening in this day and age that a brother almost lost his life in the workplace," said Sheppard.

"Some people can say it's an accident. But there's no accident, because there's a safety on an air gun and you'd have to take the safety off before shooting it."

Right before he was shot, Dlamini said Hynes pulled back the safety on the air-powered tool, aimed it at him and waited for him to turn and run before firing.

Nhlanhla Dlamini says he suffered a punctured lung after being intentionally shot with a nail gun by a co-worker on a worksite in Abercrombie, N.S., on Sept. 19. He says medical staff inserted a chest tube to release air that was building up between his lung and his chest wall, causing his lung to collapse. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Sheppard said there will be further protests in New Glasgow and Halifax and he will be asking for accountability from both the departments of labour and justice.

"We bleed the same blood as any other nationality on Earth, yet we are treated differently," he said.

"We have to stop this injustice at all costs," said Sheppard. "We will overcome."

In a prayer, Reverend Dr. Moses Adekola of the Second United Baptist Church in New Glasgow said no one should make black people feel inferior.

Reverend Dr. Moses Adekola leads a prayer at a protest supporting Nhlanhla Dlamini (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

"Open the eyes of our politicians, open the eyes of our government workers — that they will come to their senses and know that black people cannot be pushed here and there anymore."

"We are no longer slaves," said Adekola.

The Dlamini family was not present on Monday, but in a statement Dlamini's mother, Stacey Dlamini, said she would like Quinn and Clarke to apologize to the family and the black community for saying the injury wasn't serious, calling that "blatantly disrespectful."

"We want them to acknowledge that it was serious. That his life, and his body, matters," Stacey Dlamini said.

"They said it was treated with a Band-Aid on site, and also at the hospital. This is a lie," she said.

After the shooting, Dlamini had to have emergency surgery to repair a collapsed lung and spent four days in hospital.

Protesters gathered in New Glasgow in support on Nhlanhla Dlamini. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

The Department of Labour said it is conducting an inspection of the workplace related to the shooting to evaluate the safety program at P.Q. Properties.

Department spokesperson Shannon Kerr said she cannot speak to the specifics of case while the RCMP investigation is underway.  

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

About the Author

Mairin Prentiss is a reporter in Nova Scotia. Get in touch at mairin.prentiss@cbc.ca