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August 20, 2017
July 7, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, July 7, 2017

Proof not on police side

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

So, you remember yesterday when we were talking about the Edmonton police union’s take on street checks? And you remember the acting VP of the Edmonton Police Association who wrote that open letter denouncing “irresponsible” news coverage. He also said he had never seen an officer act out of racism, ever. And he denied that carding even happened in Edmonton.

He. Hasn’t. Read. Any. Of. The. Reports.

(And good for Metro Edmonton for pushing the acting union VP on this issue!)

The numbers in question are from the EPS to begin with. Both CBC Edmonton and Black Lives Matter-Edmonton submitted freedom of information requests to get the details. More than 20,000 people are stopped by police each year and asked for ID and other personal information, which ends up stored in police files. They aren’t accused of anything when this happens, or even linked to a crime. It’s being called out as racial profiling because Indigenous and Black Edmontonians are many more times likely to be stopped than a white person.

This is getting embarrassing.

It’s one thing for the police chief, the union representing officers and the force itself to respond defensively about the implications of racial profiling. It’s pretty much textbook when it comes to street checks, and other issues related to systemic racism. But to not even look at the stats while still attacking groups calling for change, to go after the local media reporting on the data, and to try and ignore just about anyone who would dare question police, is shameful. Over the last two weeks, many have pushed for a real conversation with police on these issues. Now I’m not even sure there’s strong enough leadership to see that happen.

So, the focus can shift to the provincial government. It’s getting ready to launch community consultations on police street checks, and you can let your MLA know what you think about this form of racial profiling. Meanwhile, the leader of the Alberta Liberals is pushing for more oversight of the practice, and also all police forces.

For more on the story, we’ve been tracking everything so far in one post that’s continually updated.


Longread of the week

The weekend is a good time to spend a little extra time reading all of those stories you’ve been saving on Facebook for later. (I think I’ve got like 40 right now?)

Over at the Edmonton Journal, education reporter Janet French has a mutli-part series looking at discipline, suspensions and expulsions in Edmonton’s Public and Catholic schools. It’s both a deep dive on the suspension and expulsion stats, and a big picture look at what’s happening in schools, the students removed from class and how things could be handled differently.

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

Speaking of school days… students will be doing all of their diploma exams electronically very soon.


Around the city

Edmonton has its dates for meetings with the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The inquiry will be here the weeks of September 5 and November 6. The first week in September is to meet with families, and the second week is the public hearing as part of the larger record of the inquiry.

There’s been a huge effort to pull of the World Indigenous Games this week around Treaty 6, and it’s been so rewarding to the Alberta First Nations hosting athletes and dignitaries from around the world. At the same time, Redx Eagle and Condor on the Enoch Cree Nation is hosting an international culinary event highlighting Indigenous food.

The City is looking at bigger fines for construction crews who block the sidewalk. This includes a push to look at how to improve the usability of sidewalks in general, as they are too often blocked or closed (sometimes without much reason or warning).

Mill Creek’s pedestrian (and bike) bridges are getting fixed up over the next year. “When you’re a cyclist or a pedestrian it’s a bigger deal than if you’re in a car if you have to be detoured.”

Mr. Plow could help! image: The Simpsons

It sounds odd to say in a winter city, but Edmonton is going to be testing a number of snow-clearing methods this year to find out what works best to get rid of snow the fastest.

Metis entrepreneur, philanthopist and community leader Herb Belcourt has died.

We were just talking yesterday about how Edmonton’s urban bee program is doing so well, and it seems local exterminators need some lessons on how important bees can be.

Have a story to share about raves in Edmonton? Maybe you will after this weekend?

Stay cool, Edmonton, it’s a hot one out there.

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