Halifax to rally around Ferguson: Speeches, march to raise awareness around racism

Published on August 18, 2014
Michael Brown Sr., holds up a photo of himself, his son, Michael Brown, and a young child during a news conference Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Jennings, Mo.
AP Photo/Jeff Roberso

HALIFAX - Bringing the racial issues from Ferguson, Missouri, home to Halifax can hopefully break people out of their “bubble,” said Dalhousie University student Ntombi Nkiwane.

Nkiwane, 19, and Halifax’s poet laureate El Jones are organizing a rally in solidarity with those in Ferguson. Riots and clashes with police are continuing in the St.Louis suburb, more than a week after black teen Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer, igniting racial tensions in the area.

“So many people are racially profiled,” said Nkiwane on Sunday, who is originally from South Africa.

“It definitely comes back home to Halifax and that’s the point … we’re not just looking at America, we’re looking at Canada and the rest of the world.”

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nkiwane said they are gathering in Victoria Park to hear a few speeches before marching downtown to the U.S. Consulate for more poetry and discussion around racism inherent in policing and other aspects of society.

Although Nkiwane said many block out racism when they see or experience it, which used to be a “survival tactic” during slavery, people need to be aware of the conditions they’re in.

“Not live in a bubble. They need to be aware … in order to be able to strategically plan and to be able to protect themselves.”

A long-term goal of the rally is to plan for the future and how to improve Halifax, Nkiwane said, with acts ranging from small groups of people educating others, to creating an app like Cop Watch from Toronto which helps users record police interactions.

While people have the right to be emotional in situations like Ferguson, Nkiwane said violent protests never solve anything.

“[They] are knee-jerk reactions,” Nkiwane said. “That’s not going to solve systemic injustice. I think people need to first of all be educated, then they need to get together and organize and … plan, and carry out being self-sufficient in order to stop this from happening.”