Halifax to apologize, give damages to victim of racial discrimination

·2 min read
Gyasi Symonds won his human rights complaint against Halifax Regional Police and the Halifax Regional Municipality after two police officers followed him to his downtown office building in 2017 and issued a ticket for jaywalking.  (Submitted by Gyasi Symonds  - image credit)
Gyasi Symonds won his human rights complaint against Halifax Regional Police and the Halifax Regional Municipality after two police officers followed him to his downtown office building in 2017 and issued a ticket for jaywalking. (Submitted by Gyasi Symonds - image credit)

The Halifax Regional Municipality is set to provide a written apology and damages to a man who won a human rights case against two city police officers who racially discriminated against him.

Gyasi Symonds filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission after two white officers followed him into his place of work to issue a jaywalking ticket.

Symonds, who is Black, said constables Steve Logan and Pierre-Paul Cadieux were aggressive when they confronted him in 2017.

The constables had given him a warning after witnessing him jaywalk across Gottingen Street earlier in the morning. They alleged he did it again minutes later, justifying their decision to show up at his work.

Symonds was adamant when he spoke at the commission that he crossed the second time in the crosswalk. He described feeling like he was hunted down and humiliated when the officers confronted him at his work.

A commissionaire working in the lobby of his office building backed up Symonds's account of the exchange, and said she was shocked by the actions of the officers.

The decision by the board of inquiry ordered the city to apologize and pay Symonds $15,232.

Jacques Dubé, the municipality's CAO, said HRM accepts the outcome of the case.

"The municipality is committed to addressing anti-Black racism in our workplaces and communities, and will continue to take steps to advance change," he said in a news release.

Officers to take training

Dubé said the two Halifax Regional Police officers will also take part in a new training program developed with the Black community.

"There is still much work to do in removing barriers to equity and inclusion," said Dubé. He said the municipality is working on an anti-Black racism strategy that will be presented to regional council in June.

The news release did not specify when Symonds will receive his written apology.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

<cite>(CBC)</cite>
(CBC)

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