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October 18, 2017
July 17, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Monday, July 17, 2017

Police carding requires constant coverage

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Carding activist and journalists Desmond Cole was in Edmonton Saturday night, finishing up an Alberta tour focused on the police practice that targets minority and vulnerable communities. Coming out of the packed event at a University of Alberta lecture theatre I’ve got two questions to start the week.

What are we going to do about carding in Edmonton and why wasn’t the local news media there?

Since we talk about what’s in the news here in Headlines, this is a good place to tackle the second question. I’ll try to provide answers to the first question in another post recapping the night.

To be fair, a few newsrooms grabbed interviews with Cole as he traveled Alberta last week. This is a good follow up to the issue overall, and it was helpful to preview the event he’d be speaking at in Edmonton. But the event itself, where Cole has time to speak to the issues he’s become so well-versed in, and bring so much expertise and experience to, is the next story to follow. And that’s to say nothing of the Indigenous experience shared here in Edmonton at the live event.

Not only did Cole speak Saturday night, he was joined by April Eve Wiberg and Tanya Harnett. Cole is worthy of media coverage, but so are these women. So are all the people in the room who shared their stories of racism, of police targeting, of vulnerable communities under siege from people who go into their neighbourhoods to exploit people. Cole’s words on police carding are valuable and need to be heard. But he’s not the only one. (And he was clear in some of those Q & As that he couldn’t speak on behalf of Indigenous peoples.)

These are the kinds of news coverage decisions that lead to criticism of newsrooms as part of the problem of systemic racism. We’ve seen it recently with the more overt racism of the appropriation prize, the more subtle racism of giving platforms to people who spew hate, and the invisible encouragement for morally repugnant opinions and actions by seeing those things reflected as equals in a story. It’s the trap of objectivity.

I say that journalists are trapped by objectivity because to give “both sides” equal time in a story or, in this case, to include coverage of Desmond Cole’s visit but not attend the event, checks boxes on a list that’s taught to journalists from school and throughout too many newsrooms. False objectivity worked for a long time, but it’s now why you see people openly calling out coverage that props up incorrect or hurtful commentary. People don’t have a problem with how you interviewed that neo-Nazi, they have a problem with you interviewing him at all.

I’m sure there are journalists working in Edmonton who would want to cover the carding event. But if newsrooms as a whole won’t allocate the time and resources, it won’t happen. (It didn’t happen.) So, then, how can people in your audience from vulnerable communities trust you? If an easy-to-cover event can’t make the news and continue the narrative of this issue for a few more days, how important do people feel their stories of police targeting and racial profiling really are?

There was much talk about systemic racism at the carding event Saturday night. The lack of coverage from Edmonton’s news media confirms there’s still too long a way to go to changing that. To do better, and to truly serve many more people who live in our city, some stories are going to require constant coverage, or coverage when it’s not easy or convenient.

Many Edmontonians could benefit from this kind of “pressure through good journalism” to change minds at city hall and in the ranks of Edmonton Police. Journalists would have heard that if they were at the event on the weekend. Don’t stop listening. Start, and then keep, showing up. And don’t stop fighting for people who need help to combat systemic racism once the initial news cycle of a story is over.

We’ve been tracking all of the news and latest details on carding in Edmonton in one place so you can stay up-to-date and find ways to get involved.


Around the city

You can now step onto Jasper Avenue to see what its redevelopment might look like. This weekend saw the first steps to improving the street for people walking and living in the Downtown and Oliver neighbourhoods. The street is planned to have work done, and reduced traffic lanes, in a couple of years. Final designs will incorporate feedback from this summer’s exploration of changes.

West Edmonton’s landfill is closing to garbage, and the long period of waiting for it to be safe to use in new ways begins. Other Edmonton landfills and refuse sites we now use in different ways include Rundle Park, Grierson Hill, and the space now home to the Muttart Conservatory.

Edmonton’s community leagues are almost 100 years old, and many of the older leagues are undertaking hall renewal projects.

There’s a request to the City to allow the High Level Bridge Streetcar to cross Gateway Boulevard from its current end point at a garage behind the farmers’ market and land right at Whyte Avenue.

Three months from today we’ll have a new city council (and school boards). In two months and one day, we’ll know who’s going to be on the ballot for October 16.

Bob the Angry Flower is celebrating 25 years, and his creator is celebrating his tenth book of the comic strip.

There’s a new beer tour in Edmonton, which allows you some face time with those crafting beers in new breweries and brew pubs.

Turkish refugees are asking the Canadian government to speed up applications to get people here safely one year after a failed coup attempt saw the country spiral into human rights violations. This follows on a story from last week, where an Edmonton man is risking a trip back to Turkey to try and reunite his family.

And Edmonton’s summer of goats as weed control begins!


This post was updated Monday, July 17, 2017

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