1. Racial profiling

Santina Rao and the injuries she suffered after an altercation with Halifax police. Photo: Santina Rao

“Santina Rao was at the Walmart at the Halifax Shopping Centre on Wednesday when she was accused of stealing by store staff, assaulted by the police, and arrested,” writes El Jones:

Rao was shopping with her two young children, age 3 and 15 months. She paid for $90 worth of items in the electronics department. The cashier told her she couldn’t pay for her produce in that department because it had to be weighed. On her way to the checkout, she placed the bag with her items on her stroller, and stopped in the toy aisle to buy her daughter a Barbie. She planned to pay for her purchases at the check-out before she left the store.

In the toy aisle, in front of her young children Rao was approached by three floor walkers and two police officers and accused of stealing items and concealing them. She says she offered them to search her bags and even the stroller.

Instead, the officers continued accusing her of theft. When she became stressed and agitated in response to their questions, they attempted to arrest her for causing a disturbance and called for backup. Rao was accused of causing a disturbance because she became angry and protested being accused of being a thief.

In the end, Rao said six cops were surrounding her.

The items Rao was accused of stealing were a head of lettuce, two lemons, and a grapefruit.

She never left the store.

One officer tried to grab her child and pull her away. When Rao tried to protect her daughter, she says the police escalated the violence against her.

In Rao’s description, as the police assaulted her and grabbed her daughter, she scratched the face of one of the officers.

Rao has been charged with assaulting an officer… Notably, Rao was not charged with the alleged theft that began the incident in the first place.

Jones provides more details, including a police statement issued after the arrest, video of the altercation, and photos of Rao’s injuries. Click here to read “Halifax woman says she was racially profiled by Wal-Mart employees who wrongfully accused her of theft, then beaten by police.”

I have a couple of observations.

First, concerning the supposed shoplifting. I do what Rao did most every time I shop at the farmers market. I can’t juggle five potatoes, a head of kale, and a cabbage in my bare hands, so I place them all in my bag with items I’ve already paid for at other vendors so I can carry them to the checkout, where I retrieve the new items from my bag and pay for them. No one ever says a word to me about it, because it’s an entirely reasonable thing to do. Also because, well, I’m a white dude. But as with me at the farmers market, it makes sense for a woman juggling two kids to place a head of lettuce, two lemons, and a grapefruit in the stroller so she could carry them to the register. I would do exactly this.

Besides, as I understand the law, it’s not shoplifting until you leave the store with unpaid items. Calling the cops while the shopper is still in the store is unnecessary escalation. Given what Wal-Mart pays its other workers, I have no doubt that the security team is underpaid and undertrained, but there’s no excuse for that escalation to continue at the hands of the highly paid and better trained Halifax cops. It’s inexcusable that it came to this.

Second, while the overwhelming response on social media has been supportive of Rao, I do see some comments along the line of “if she just followed the cops orders, this wouldn’t have happened.” This is a fascistic instinct: obey the state police or be assaulted by them. We have every right to say no to cops when they overstep, and to stand up for our own dignity and rights. When we give that up, we’ve lost everything.

That equation doesn’t change because Rao is a person of colour.

2. PR coup for spaceport

A MLS graphic of the hydrazine-fuelled cyclone rocket it proposes to use at Canso.

“Later today, St. Francis Xavier University will sign a memorandum of understanding with Maritime Launch Services,” reports Joan Baxter:

For a company with some disreputable partners, and which is still searching high and low for investors to bankroll its proposed spaceport in Canso, to be hooking up with a reputable Canadian university looks like quite a PR coup for MLS.

Click here to read “PR coup: Maritime Launch Services signs agreement with St. Francis Xavier University.”

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3. Waterfront art gallery

The waterfront site of the future Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The McNeil government is taking the next step toward building a $100-million Art Gallery along the Halifax waterfront,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

The Department of Transportation Infrastructure and Renewal (TIR) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to design an “iconic” building to be built on the Salter lot across Lower Water Street from the Keith’s Brewery, where a parking lot and beach volleyball court today face the boardwalk along the harbour. Of the $100 million, $70 million will come from the province and $30 million from the feds.

“We are embarking on an exciting phase of the project to build Nova Scotia’s new waterfront art gallery and public space,” said Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine in a news release.

Nowhere in the 91-page design RFP document can the words “climate change” or “rising sea level” be found. Presumably those issues will be addressed after the design competition is over this summer and before the final design is approved. The Examiner is waiting for a response from TIR to explain at what point in the design or construction process rules will be laid out with respect to how far the building should be set back from the coast and how high  it should be built above the high-water mark, or the minimum vertical allowance.

This Youtube video shows buildings along Lower Water Street would be submerged if you combine a projected 1.0 metre rise in sea level with a 2.9 metre Hurricane Juan-like storm surge:

YouTube video

Click here to read “Province announces design competition for new waterfront art gallery but still makes no mention of rising sea levels.”

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No public meetings.

On campus


Welcome Reception for Deep Saini (Friday, 11am, LeMarchant Place Atrium) — Dal’s 12th president and vice-chancellor.

Abortion, Harm Reduction and the New Self-Care Movement (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Kinga Jelinska from Women Help Women International and Mariana Prandini Assis will present this Health Law and Policy Seminar.

Genocidal Studies and the Korean Civil War: Gender and Taesal (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Brendan Wright from the University of Toronto will talk.

Dimers are a Girl’s Best Friend: How Dimerization of Organic Radicals Leads to Interesting Magnetic Behaviour (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Katheryn E. Preuss from the University of Guelph will talk.

Gut Feeling (Friday, 6pm, Art Gallery, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — opening reception of exhibition by emerging artists. Artist talk and tour Saturday, 2pm. More info here.

Saint Mary’s

Humanitarian Aid and Child Protection (Friday, 12pm, McNally Main 227) — Judi Fairholm will talk.

Medical Malpractice, Coroner Morton Shulman, and the ‘Conspiracy of Silence’ (Friday, 12pm, MN219, McNally Building) — Blake Brown will talk.

Mount Saint Vincent

Crossing the Line: Challenging Stories of War and Peace in Nova Scotia (Friday, 12pm, Room 532, Seton Academic Centre) — Maya Eichler will discuss

the importance of paying attention to what stories are told in Nova Scotia about war and peace: What is the dominant narrative about war and peace; what stories are less visible, and why do these questions matter? Nova Scotia has a long history of military involvement, but also a rich and less well-known history of peace activism. Dr. Eichler will share diverse and often overlooked stories as told by local military veterans and peace activists from an edited collection being put together by the Mount Network for Community-Engaged Research on War.

Heather Hart: Northern Oracle (Saturday, 2pm, MSVU Art Gallery) — informal reception with the artist.


8th Annual Conference of the Early Modern (Friday and Saturday) — Students in the Early Modern Studies Program will present a conference on their work. Further details including a conference schedule available here.

In the harbour

10:30: Heroic Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Boston
15:30: Heroic Leader sails for sea
16:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, sails from anchorage for Kingston, Jamaica
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
Midnight: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea


My mother died early his morning. Her death is welcome, as I hope her suffering was brief. I wrote about her here.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. I am very sorry for your loss, Tim. Your mom has peace, and you have memories. I hope that provides solace to you.

  2. Oh I’m so sorry for you loss, Tim! My condolences. I lost my mother almost a year ago (i year in another week actually, wow).

    It can be a terrible loss (I know it was for me).

    If you need help dealing with the loss, I highly recommend the bereavement support group at Hospice Halifax:
    I went for a few weeks last year and I found it extremely helpful. It’s a fantastic group.


  3. My condolences for your loss Tim. She sounds like a wonderful person and truly someone who made the world a better place in their own ways.

  4. Nurses and doctors don’t have guns,tasers or thick vests – they have brains, and they use them when a resident/patient becomes violent or upset. My wife has experience and when there was an ‘incident’ the staff knew how to de-escalate a situation. Police would stand back and let trained staff deal with the problem. The police would say ‘It appears you have the situation under control’ and remain in attendance until it quietened down. It appears that police are trained to ‘obtain and maintain control’ when what is required is having the good sense to take the time to let the situation cool down; this lady was no threat to her kids,herself, staff,police or other customers.

  5. All middle class white people have to step into these forming explosions and exert our influence whenever and however possible. Speak out! Otherwise, take out your phone and try to record as much as possible while letting the police know that you are filming their actions. You are allowed to do this. You should do this. Let them know you will be a witness and their actions will determine for whose side.

    Many times nothing happens. (Like the Gold Pit meeting last year where the RCMP and company got away with their horrible behavior.) But if we forced ourselves to step up to the plate and do our duty as citizens, We can begin to make them think twice about what they do.