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Calvin Lawrence’s Black Cop tells all 

The recently released memoir recounts the racism he faced as one of Halifax’s first Black police officers.

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# BlackLivesMatter justifiably draws attention to how racism affects Black civilians—but what about Black police officers? 

In his recently released memoir Black Cop, Calvin Lawrence recounts the racism he experienced as a Black police officer in Halifax and across Canada. 

In 1969, Lawrence was one of the first Black men recruited by the Halifax Police Department. It wasn't an easy opportunity for him.

"I had to deal with police officers who resented me being there," says Lawrence. "I had to deal with Black people who resented me being a police officer. And, I had to deal with white people who didn't like to see Black people in authority."

Eventually, he left the Halifax Police Department to join the Mounties. He completed basic training in Regina, went undercover in Edmonton and Toronto and protected VIPs in Ottawa.

But no matter where he went or what kind of police work he did, Lawrence says he met with resistance—on the streets and in the station—because of his skin colour and because he was good at his job.

"Generally speaking, people who practice racist behaviour covet what Blacks have if they're successful," he explains. "So in these people's minds, the better you do, the more they dislike you and the more threatened they are. And this, in my opinion, has gone on throughout my career." 

Lawrence wants people to understand the effects of individual racism and institutional racism in Canadian police organizations and other workplaces: "I think that there's a false perception that if Black people put their efforts into getting an education, to be competent at their jobs, that they will be immediately accepted into white society—and this is a false assumption."

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Vol 28, No 4
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