Halifax woman racially profiled and arrested after Halifax Regional Police say they were chasing a “white man in a Toyota”

Local musician, music promoter, and community advocate Kayla Borden is traumatized and shaken after she was pulled over and handcuffed by police last night in what she calls yet another incident of racial profiling by the Halifax Regional Police.

Borden says she was driving home at around 12:50am from her cousin’s place by Charles P. Allen High School. When she reached the intersection of Cuddy Lane and Windmill Road at around 1am, she paused to wait for a police wagon which had pulled up diagonally alongside her car.

The lights [on the wagon] were not on, which I thought was weird, so I waited about 10 seconds, and then about 5-6 more cop cars came out of nowhere and swarmed me in the intersection from all directions.

Two white officers approached me. I couldn’t see if they had their guns out or not. They yelled, “Put your hands on the steering wheel.” I was so scared wondering what was going on. After I put my hands on the wheel, the same cop immediately started yelling at me to get out of the car. 

I had my window rolled down, and he grabbed open my car door. He pulled me out of the car and told me “You’re under arrest.” They put me in handcuffs. I was asking, “For what?” He told me, “We will see in a minute.”

Borden, an African Nova Scotia woman, says that all the officers were white, and only one officer was a woman. She says another officer approached her and began questioning her.

He asked, “Do you know why we pulled you over?” I said that I didn’t. He said, “You didn’t have your lights on for a bit.” I told him that I did have my lights on, and then he said that I didn’t pull over when he put on his lights. I told him that I did pull over, five minutes before when a cop car came up behind me on the Bedford Highway. 

Then he asked me what kind of car I drive, and after I responded, he said “We were on a high speed chase with a white guy in a Toyota.” I drive a Dodge Avenger. And, obviously, I am not a white man. 

Borden says the officer who arrested her then said, “You are un-under arrest.” However, even though she was told she was no longer being detained, another officer still took her licence, registration, and insurance information while she was still surrounded by three police cars. She was then instructed to move her car to the side of the road, and after waiting for her belongings to be returned, the officer with her identification told her, “Sorry, have a good night.”

Borden was unable to sleep after the incident, and wonders what could have happened if she had been slow to put her hands on the wheel or if she had reached for her phone.

As a Queer Black woman, I’ve had a few interactions with the police, and the experience has never been a good one. If anything, I was arrested for being Black.

This morning, Borden went to the police station on Gottingen to complain, but was initially told there was no record of the incident. They directed her to call the East Division in Dartmouth, but when she called they said they couldn’t find any records.

After her friend intervened and told the officer that what was happening was completely unacceptable, they finally gave her an incident number. They would not provide any other information, including the names of the officers who stopped or questioned her. They also said they could not verify that the police were on a high speed chase with a white man in a Toyota.

The Halifax Regional Police office in Dartmouth in July 2020. Photo: Zane Woodford

Borden says she is still in shock. She says the police explanation about a high-speed chase with a white man does not add up, and she is still questioning why she was not only pulled over, but arrested and placed in handcuffs when she obviously did not fit the description of the supposed suspect.

The only explanation for what happened is racial profiling. Nothing has changed. The fact that this is happening at this time with all these protests going on, it makes me so angry. 

Being arrested and handcuffed, surrounded by all these officers, people screaming at me, I didn’t know what was going on. 

Nobody, especially not a Black person, a woman, should be driving late at night and have to fear being pulled over or even losing your life. I didn’t know if they were going to pull their guns. I was alone, and I was so terrified. 

Borden says she is speaking out because it is important African Nova Scotians and the broader community know that racial profiling is still happening. She says she is filing a complaint and will keep pushing for information about why she was stopped and treated the way she was.

This needs to stop. I’m not going to let this just happen. I was scared last night, but I’m not afraid to speak out now for myself and my community. What happened is not right.


Related: “Black man arrested for being in city park after dark says he was racially profiled by Halifax Regional Police officers