Oct 20, 2020 - World

Soldiers reportedly fire on protesters against police brutality in Nigeria

A crowd of Nigerian youths raise their arms against police brutality

Young Nigerians protest the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Lagos. Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images

A growing movement against police brutality in Nigeria has erupted into violence, with reports of a number of deaths and injuries in Lagos on Tuesday, according to Al Jazeera.

Why it matters: Nigeria is the latest country to confront police brutality. The U.S. has witnessed months of clashes between police and protesters over the killings of Black Americans.

Where it stands: Soldiers reportedly opened fire on protesters in Lagos, which Al Jazeera calls the “epicenter” of protests comprised of tens of thousands of people.

  • Amnesty International corroborated accounts in a statement on Tuesday, saying it had received “credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force.”
  • Social media footage shows panicked crowds urging people to sit down amid multiple rounds of fire.

Details: The movement emerged two weeks ago when #EndSARS began to trend on social media platforms. The campaign called on the government to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit that has faced accusations of abuse in the past.

  • Many users posted experiences of harassment and sexual abuse from SARS.
  • The campaign has received support around the world, with people in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom holding demonstrations in solidarity.

The big picture: This is not the first time #EndSARS has trended online. Protesters used it in 2017 to organize demonstrations.

  • That year, Amnesty International accused SARS officials of routinely kidnapping and torturing young Nigerians.
  • A petition with over 10,000 signatures called for SARS’ disbandment and was submitted to Nigeria’s National Assembly.
  • In response, then-Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris reorganized SARS and opened investigations into allegations of abuse.
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