Man who won $10K after racial discrimination by police wants street checks to end
A human rights inquiry found that boxer Kirk Johnson was discriminated against based on race
Boxer Kirk Johnson is calling for an end to police street checks after a CBC News investigation found that black people are three times more likely than white people to be targeted in checks carried out by Halifax Regional Police.
In 2003, a human rights inquiry found that Johnson was discriminated against based on race when he was stopped by police in Dartmouth five years earlier.
Police were ordered to pay Johnson $10,000 in damages.
"I'm just disappointed," said Johnson, originally from North Preston, N.S.
"Thirteen, 14 years later, you still have the same type of thing going on."
'It just has to stop'
Johnson, 44, said he had hoped his human rights battle would help put an end to racial stereotyping by police but "this shows that the message wasn't strong enough."
"When you know you're not doing anything wrong, and you have to sit there and pay attention to the officer, for no reason, temper flares," said Johnson, who splits his time between Halifax and Texas, where he trains.
Johnson said he believes the force does a great job most of the time, but he worries racial stereotyping could lead to the type of violence seen in a number of U.S. cities between police and the black community.
"I don't want to see that," he said. "Nobody else wants to see that."
Police analyzing street checks
Halifax Regional Police started collecting details on street checks, including age, gender and ethnicity, in 2005. However, the force didn't start analyzing the data until last October when it received a request from CBC News under freedom of information legislation.
A newly hired research co-ordinator for Halifax Regional Police, Chris Giacomantonio, presented his preliminary analysis of the data to the board of police commissioners on Monday.
The only African Nova Scotia member of the board, Sylvia Parris, said the black community is not surprised by the findings on street checks.
"I think we should stop and have a pause, whether it's a full moratorium, whether it's some other way," she said.
Police stopped short of accepting Parris's call for a moratorium. They said they want to wait until Giacomantonio completes his more detailed analysis of the numbers.
Giacomantonio told the commissioners that part of his ongoing research will look at how effective street checks are as a tool for police.
With files from the CBC's Angela MacIvor