What do you think of when you hear police brutality? I usually think of The United States. Of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless black lives that were either ended or reduced to shambles by racist police. I always thought of racism when I heard police brutality and hoped it only happened in the West.
Unfortunately, police brutality does not end in the West. It also finds itself in Nigeria. However, there, it is not fueled by racism.
Maybe you have heard of SARS on the news. Not the respiratory illness, but the Special-Anti-Robbery Squad in Nigeria. SARS is a decentralized sector of the Nigerian police. It was set-up to protect the citizens of Nigeria from violent crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping.
The sector was to be undercover and faceless. Anyone could be a SARS officer. They fought crime, wore masks and could be anyone, basically superheroes. However, as they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions; SARS could arrest you for anything (like having an iPhone or dressing nicely). Their wrath went as far as harassment and even murder. People succumbed to constant fear.
When pushed against a wall, people push back. Nigerians could no longer accept the torture. Therefore, they protested, and still are, like the millions who did the same for Black lives matter earlier this year. Instead of Black Lives Matter, the protesters used “#ENDSARS”.
Unfortunately, the #ENDSARS protesters met with a similar fate as the BLM protesters; they were shot at and beaten up by the police. People died, and many left severely injured.
It hurts my heart deeply that we live in a world where those who are meant to protect us have the means and the power to hurt us.
Of course, it is not like you can go to Nigeria to #ENDSARS. You can, however, educate yourself. Fortunately, you have taken a step by reading this article. I urge you to please check out the END SARS website. There, you can find more information on the movement, testimonies, as well as ways to assist the millions of Nigerians currently protesting.