Hundreds of people gathered at Victoria Park in Halifax on May 30 to protest and mourn the death of Afro-Indigenous woman, Regis Korchinski-Paquet who died on May 27 in Toronto.
The protesters practiced COVID-19 safety guidelines as they marched from Victoria Park to the HRM Police headquarters with placards and banners as they chanted “No justice, no peace. No racist police.”
Stacey Gomez, one of the organizers of the protest and a member of Justice for Regis Nova Scotia Coalition, told The Coast they were gathered to call for justice for Korchinski-Paquet’s death. “We are echoing the call of her family for an independent investigation into Regis’ death,” Gomez said.
Gomez said people are oblivious to the fact that police brutality against Black people happens in Canada. “The issue of police brutality against Black and Indigenous people is a Canadian issue as it is an American issue and an issue globally. It’s truly a global epidemic,” she said.
The Nova Scotia Human Rights' Commission report on street checks found that Black people in Halifax were six times more likely to be street checked by police than they should have been if all races were street checked equally—confirming what community members had been saying for years. And with the recent death of African-American man George Floyd, people are gathering across North America to say that police brutality needs to end.
Advocate El Jones is one of those people. She requested earlier this year that Halifax Regional Police's budget not be increased because racial profiling by the police was still an issue. In HRM's 2019/20 operational budget, $99.5 million went to Halifax Regional Police.
Jones said the affected communities need to work together to combat police violence. “We need to continue to build strength among ourselves so we can continue not just in times of crisis but to push every day of every month at the police board,” she said.
Trayvone Clayton, one of the people who came out to protest, said he’s tired of being silent about police brutality. “I’m Black. I’m African Nova Scotian. I’m Black. I dealt with police brutality before when I was 16. It’s not the first time. So I gotta stand against it,” he said.
He said he hopes this protest brings about justice, and, eventually, equality.
“I wanna be able to walk these streets just like every other white person walks these streets."
Korchinski-Paquet’s uncle and cousin were present at the protest. They talked about how difficult a time it has been for Korchinski-Paquet’s mother.
Knia Singh, the lawyer representing the Korchinski-Paquet family, said in a statement that the deceased’s mother did not witness her daughter being shoved off the building but that she would like answers.
Korchinski-Paquet's mother, Claudette Korchinski-Beals, told reporters in Toronto at a press conference on Thursday: “I asked police yesterday if they could take my daughter to CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), and my daughter ended up dead. So I don’t understand.”