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Ticketing of Black man for jaywalking was racial discrimination: human rights board

Last Updated May 5, 2021 at 3:38 pm EDT

Police officers attend a murder scene in Halifax on Thursday, July 2, 2020. One man is dead and two others were seriously injured after a shooting in the residential neighbourhood. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — A human rights board of inquiry has found that a Black man was discriminated against by Halifax police when he was ticketed for jaywalking.

Board chairman Benjamin Perryman released a decision today that finds Gyasi Symonds faced discrimination based on his race when he was stopped by two officers and later ticketed in the lobby of the downtown building where he works.

In his ruling, the board chairman describes two encounters between Symonds and constables Paul Cadieux and Steve Logan that started when the income assistance worker was observed jaywalking on Gottingen Street on Jan. 24, 2017.

The decision says the officers first stopped Symonds after he went to a coffee shop across from his office without using a crosswalk at the corner, warning him about jaywalking and telling him he was free to go.

The decision says the facts of what happened next were disputed, with Symonds telling the board he crossed at the corner when he returned to his office and the two police officers saying they observed him again crossing in the middle of the block.

Perryman found in his ruling that he found it “more likely than not” that Symonds didn’t jaywalk on his return trip and concluded the officers’ decision to wait and observe the man was based in part on race.

Perryman has ordered police to pay Symonds $15,232 and suggests all new police hires complete training in policing without bias.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2021. 

The Canadian Press