One of the many groundbreaking social movements of 2020 surfaced in Nigeria last month and has taken the world by storm. The movement #endSARS began trending on Twitter in October as millions gathered in Nigeria to protest the brutal actions of the Nigerian federal police group called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The SARS group has been captured on video performing kidnappings, rape, theft, extrajudicial killings and torture.
The movement, which originally began in 2017, was reinvigorated by video footage released on Oct. 4, showing officers dragging two men out of a hotel and shooting one of them. While the initial outrage prompted the dissolution of the group, news of redeployment for SARS officers once again caused distress.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has tried to create peace through pledges to reform the police system and he promised to work alongside human rights groups. Yet, the violence and outrage has continued. Protesters have called the government’s response, “lip service,” while police officers continue to use violence against citizens.
The Washington Post reported that, “Just after dusk on Tuesday, protesters say streetlights suddenly went out in the Lekki toll gate plaza. The crowd was singing the national anthem when Nigerian security forces approached and opened fire.”
Amnesty International, a human rights organization, has reported that 10 people died, and over 100 were wounded at the Lekki toll gate on Oct. 20. The group has also reported that closed-circuit television, and electricity was cut before the attack.
The movement has continued to grow, making its way into the United States. Celebrities such as Beyoncé, Cardi B, Rihanna and Drake have all made comments about the atrocities that SARS has committed. Even President-elect Joe Biden had something to say, commenting, “The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy.” Large protests against SARS have occurred in major cities around the globe including Ontario, New York City, Dublin and London.
While the movement has grown internationally, many in America are finding it hard to follow with the election, COVID-19 and police brutality movements on our soil. Eliza Newkirk, a senior intercultural studies and chemistry double major, spent time studying abroad in Uganda. She has been one of many who sympathizes with the movement but is finding it hard to follow. “Honestly, I really haven’t been following #endSARS. I know that’s terrible, but I’ve been swamped with other stuff.”
Many feel that the United States and other countries around the world have not done enough and have taken to trying to combat the lack of awareness internationally. Chibundu Onuzo, a writer for the Guardian, said, “The world seems curiously indifferent when the victims are black. Part of the reason African leaders get away with atrocities on African soil is because they know the world will turn a blind eye to them. Murderous despots will still be granted visas to Paris, London and New York. They will spend their loot on property and gaudy Rolexes, propping up foreign economies instead of building their own,” Onuzo continued. “Black lives matter everywhere that black lives are found: be it on the streets of the U.S., in rubber dinghies on the Mediterranean Sea or in the towns and cities of Nigeria. Nigerians cried over the killing of George Floyd. And we hope in America, in Brazil, in Britain, in France, in China, in India, the African diaspora will also stand with us as we mourn.”
Photo courtesy of Sunday Alabama