AJAs 2017 Finalists


Slug/Label Street Checks
Date Aired or Published January 9, 2017
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC Nova Scotia
Name of Program: Information Morning Mainland
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Halifax
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio): 11 minutes 25 seconds

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

For decades members of Nova Scotia’s African diaspora suspected police were pulling them over or stopping them in the street more often than white people. On January 9th, 2017 their suspicions were confirmed. A freedom of information request by the CBC’s Phlis McGregor to the Halifax Regional Police asked for 11 years of street check data. The data came to the CBC in a raw form and it took our team almost a week to break it down and analyse it. What we found is that Black people in Halifax are three times more likely to be street-checked than caucasians. It also showed that approximately one-third of Halifax’s Black population had been street-checked at least once in the 11 year period. In contrast, only nine percent of the white population had been street-checked in that same time period. We also found that of the people who were street-checked more than 60% had no previous criminal record. Once our team came up with those statistics, we asked experts WHAT it meant. We asked police WHY it was happening. We asked WHY, if the Halifax Regional Police kept this data, no one from the force ever examined the data, or analysed it. This was particularly significant given an earlier human rights board of inquiry that found that African Nova Scotian boxer Kirk Johnson was discriminated against because of his race when police pulled him over and seized his car. At that time the inquiry chair ordered police to collect data on the race of all drivers stopped by police. No one from the police force ever thought to examine that data. Most importantly we asked members of the Black community to respond: We asked HOW DOES STREET-CHECKING AFFECT BLACK LIVES? We heard stories of rage and resentment, and from a community fed up with systemic racism. What we heard reaffirmed a racial divide that has plagued Halifax for generations. This CBC report sparked a social media response, community meetings and a series of news stories from various outlets. It also inspired the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to hire an independent third party to review the data, and it prompted the Halifax Regional Police to create a diversity advisory committee. Calls for action and change resonated throughout the province. The momentum continues to this day. I've included a selection of CBC online stories to demonstrate this continuing impact.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Our investigative unit worked on this initial story for about a week, with treatments rolling out on Radio, TV and online at both the local and network level. Along with Phlis, the following four other people worked on the stories for the various platforms: Christina Harnett - producer, Information Morning Susan Allen - producer, Investigative Unit Angela McIvor - investigative reporter. Investigative Unit Jack Julian - Data journalist, Investigative Unit

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