As Edmonton Police chief Rod Knecht responds to the allegations of racial profiling through street checks, it’s a good opportunity to talk about being racist. By that I mean, one doesn’t need to be “a racist” to act in a racist way, and certainly not to exhibit behaviours that come from systemic racism built into to our society.
It’s like being able to celebrate Canada 150 while still acknowledging our country’s colonial past and cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples who have been here 15,000 years. If your celebrations are called racist it’s not about you personally, though it is about your actions. We live in a racist society. If more white people and settlers could confront their own privilege and accept this, we might stop getting in the way when people demand the most basic recognition and rights. And then we could actually being the process of reconciliation.
Alright, back to the police chief and the practice of carding, where officers ask people on the street for their ID and other information. In his defence of carding, the chief says the actions “…are most often initiated by an officer in response to a call for service, crime trends or public safety concerns“. He says this without proof.
We don’t know that carding is happening only in relation to recent crimes or after someone calls the police. In fact, the EPS is also saying this is a way of “…gathering street-level intelligence, community engagement…”. In various reactions this week, EPS have connected the arbitrary collection of personal information to all aspects of their work.
In the battle of soundbites and back-and-forth remarks (that is, unfortunately, still a large portion of local news coverage) the EPS aren’t offering any stats or analysis of their own to counter that of Black Lives Matter-Edmonton and CBC Edmonton. The BLM report examined Edmonton Police stats between 2012 and 2016. CBC looked at 2016, in a follow-up to earlier reporting on street checks. Both reports conclude there is a disproportionate number of Indigenous and Black Edmontonians being stopped.
Police are countering with anecdotes. That these kind of street checks helped solve a homicide. And an arson. We have a handful of examples where a crime might have been solved, or prevented thanks to stopping a random person. But that’s out of more than 20,000 street checks each year. Those aren’t great stats.
The police chief, and officers and staff of the Edmonton Police Service, need to know that they aren’t being called racist by BLM-Edmonton, the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women or any other critics of carding. There are no accusations of a “racist agenda“. Police are being asked, however, to address an aspect of systemic racism that is proven through their own data. It doesn’t seem like they are willing to do that though.
OK, police are carding people all of the time. They are stopping Indigenous and Black Edmontonians more often. There isn’t proof this is helping to do anything about crime in the city. So where do we go from here?
You can use the form on Progress Alberta’s website to email your MLA about the issue. The Alberta government is reviewing street checks and is supposed to come up with new rules. Get in touch with your MLA to tell them this kind of racial profiling is not acceptable in Edmonton.
Around the city
Edmonton’s crosswalks aren’t as safe as they could be. Not that you have to walk on too many of them to know that. But the City is going to start monitoring them and actually trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not. The monitoring will include cameras and computers and digging into the safety and use data of the crosswalks.
We’ll be hearing about Edmonton’s annexation of land in Leduc County today, including some details about the airport.
Edmonton is considering salt in its battle against snow. More specifically, using more salt and calcium chloride solutions on city streets right before and when it starts snowing, in an effort to melt more of the snow and make clearing roads easier and quicker.
While the provincial government is going to have to set a lot of the direction for new marijuana laws, the City has come up with some basics in preparation for legalization.
If you want to enjoy the End of the World in its current unsafe condition, you better get out there soon. Really soon.
Longread: A local boxer and MMA fighter said he was willing to let combat sports kill him. Which is exactly what happened.
As we head into the long weekend, the Canada 150 noise will be its loudest. As mentioned above in the discussion around racial profiling through carding, there’s a lot for Canadians to confront this Canada Day. For others, it will not be a celebration at all, as there is still too much failure around reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians.
This weekend also sees Enoch Cree Nation and Treaty 6 hosting the World Indigenous Games, the second-ever run of the event.
The Edmonton Journal is looking back 50 years at changes of Canada’s immigration policy in 1967 that opened our borders to people who weren’t just from majority-white countries. They also profile three different families. And Editor-in-Chief Mark Iype talks about his own family’s journey to Canada.
Though Canada Day is becoming synonymous with a new Remedy Cafe opening, we’ll be missing out on that this year. There should be a new Remedy open soon though (and two scheduled for Canada Day next year too).
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