Halifax reacts to shootings in Dallas, Minnesota, Louisiana
Police chief says Halifax will continue to work towards diversity, ask for feedback
People in Halifax are reacting with dismay to the news that five police officers were killed in Dallas in a shooting Thursday night.
Seven other officers and two civilians were wounded, U.S. authorities said Friday.
The shootings happened during a protest over the recent police shooting deaths of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.
Halifax police Chief Jean Michel-Blais said he felt "great consternation" when he heard the news.
"Especially in light of the last 72 hours in the United States, of what's occurred in Minnesota and Louisiana, and the challenges that Americans overall as a society are dealing with right now — with the gun culture as well as some of the challenges regarding race."
Blais said police plan for events like the shooting in Dallas and the police-targeted shooting spree in Moncton two years ago, but there is a limit to how prepared a police force can be.
"It's like anything else. These events occur. You can't really deal with them until you deal with them in person."
'Disturbing beyond measure'
Pastor Rhonda Britton of the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church said she found the news of the shootings of young black men and police extremely difficult to watch.
"It's disturbing beyond measure," she said. "I cannot figure out how taking more lives is going to make anything better. Constantly killing one another is not going to do anything but wind up with making a lot of people dead. It's not going to heal anything."
At the same time, Britton noted the frustrations that led to the protests against police shootings.
Activist, educator and poet El Jones suggested Canadians should realize that issues of poverty and marginalization confront the black community in Canada too.
"I think these aren't anomalies in our society either," she said. "We cannot look at the States and say this is something we observe as Canada, and aren't we lucky that racism doesn't happen in here, because that's precisely what allows racism to occur in Canada."
'Two wrongs don't make a right'
Quentrel Provo, founder of the organization Stop The Violence Spread the Love, said as a young black man he has experienced racial profiling and is saddened by the killings.
"Two wrongs don't make a right," he said. "No one deserves to be killed in cold blood to justify a killing — even if they're in the wrong. I understand police officers have been killing our unarmed black men at a high rate, which is disheartening. But we have to find a way to get justice."
Support for all violence victims
Blais ordered that the United States flag be raised in front of police headquarters to show support of all victims of gun violence, including the men who were shot by police.
He said he also recognizes that in Halifax there is work to do on race relations.
Blais says the force will soon launch a diversity forum that would ask people from all communities to give feedback on police policies and approaches.
"Yes, there are challenges on occasion. There always are. That's the very nature of policing. And the key is to keep up with our work on a regular basis, working with the communities that we serve," he said.