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August 20, 2017
July 4, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Anecdotes aren't proof

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Edmonton Police are racially profiling people in our city. It’s happening through a process called street checks, or carding, where officers will ask someone for their ID and other information – when the person is not suspected of anything – even when there’s not a direct connection to any crime being investigated.

Stats released by Black Lives Matter (with some help from Progress Alberta) and similar police data analyzed by CBC Edmonton show that Indigenous Edmontonians and people of colour are many more times likely to be stopped by police. The police are yet to deny their own numbers, and they are yet to offer any real answer as to why they would continue the racist practice.

Bashir Mohamed and Reakash Walters have written an excellent rebuttal of the police chief’s anecdotes and his support for an action that does not appear to solve or prevent crimes.

The Edmonton Journal also has some thoughts from people who have been carded.

Mohamed, Walters, the CBC (particularly reporter Andrea Huncar), Progress Alberta and Black Lives Matter-Edmonton have all done their homework on this issue. The stats are from Edmonton Police, they’ve been analyzed, independently examined, and they are pretty indisputable.

Police in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge (where data is also being used to prove racial profiling) are all staying away from discussing the data itself, offering up, at best, a few anecdotal examples of crimes some such street check or another may have helped solve. Police, of course, aren’t being told to stop talking to people in the communities they work in. Nor are they being asked to avoid conversing with people they believe have a connection to a crime (whether a suspect, witness, or for more information on the case). They are being asked to stop collecting and cataloguing personal information from people that have nothing to do with a crime.

Even if you’re not Indigenous or Black, this is an issue for you to be concerned about. Your personal information shouldn’t be in a police database unless you offer it up willingly, or as part of an actual investigation or crime. Stand up for Edmonton’s Indigenous communities and people of colour and let your police chief, police force, city councillor and MLA know this kind of racial profiling isn’t acceptable (in Edmonton). Getting in touch with your MLA is important because the provincial government is currently reviewing the practice of carding and is expected to put forward new rules for street checks, or could even ban them if they felt public pressure.

Edmonton Police street checks are a big issue right now. See what we’ve been saying and what’s been in the local news coverage on WednesdayThursday and Friday.


Discipline in schools

Over at Postmedia Edmonton, education reporter Janet French has a mutli-part series looking at discipline, suspensions and expulsions in Edmonton’s Public and Catholic schools. It’s a good piece of original journalism and an excellent look at what’s happening in our city schools when it comes to punishing and rehabilitating students.

Along with an overall look at the issues in schools, including how many students are being suspended, there are profiles of students who have been disciplined, a fantastic story on success being found in one school with more of a restorative justice approach, and what the education minister is now considering in the wake of the examination.

This is longread of the week in Edmonton.


Around the city

Edmonton’s annexation of land south of the city, right up to the airport and over to the QEII Highway, was announced with much jubilation before the weekend. There’s also a new effort for Edmonton, the city of Leduc and Leduc County to all work together with the Edmonton International Airport, which remains in the county in the deal.

On the other side of Highway 2, the annexation of land from the town of Beaumont probably won’t go as smoothly.

North of the city, St. Albert is looking to get more of a say in what new neighbourhoods and subdivisions could look like, especially how much public land is included in the plans. That city’s council also wants to be in the conversation with school boards about whether it might be more efficient to build multi-storey schools in new areas.

The World Indigenous Games kicked off on the long weekend, welcoming athletes and dignitaries from countries around the world to Enoch Cree Nation and other venues around Treaty 6. This is just the second time the games have happened, after an inaugural run in Brazil two years ago.

At the same time, the Nelson Mandela Dialogues are also here in Treaty 6, with a reminder that reconciliation is ultimately going to need to go beyond the residential school conversation, in order to truly heal Canada’s cultural genocide and violence against Indigenous peoples.

Somewhat connected to that point about reconciliation… Cindy Gladue’s accused killer is heading back to trial after the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned an acquittal which it says “…exposed the flaws in the legal infrastructure used for instructing juries on sexual offences in Canada.” This is one of a few recent court, and government, decisions to try and get more right about sexual assault cases, and also treat Indigenous people involved in the criminal justice system with dignity and respect.

Maybe you were one of the Edmontonians who rallied around a Guatemalan family that was facing deportation? Well, those efforts paid off, and now the family gets a two-year reprieve to apply to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds.


Public engagement

There’s an Executive Committee meeting today, which starts at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will also stream live from the River Valley Room.

It’s going to be one heck of a busy week over at city hall, as a summer break looms.

Most of the City’s public engagement activities, including open houses, drop-in events and surveys, are going to be on hold until after the election this October. There are still some events, and council and committee meetings too, but things are slowing way down until the fall.

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