SHAUN KING: Millions of People Watched the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre Happen
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The fight to end police brutality in Nigeria should be considered a global issue within the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police brutality against Black and Brown bodies is not a strictly American issue, and it is our responsibility to stand for those facing it across the world.
Protests began with the people’s demands to end the Nigerian police unit SARS, but have now grown to a wider call for the end of all police brutality. As they continue to take place, peaceful protesters are being met with increasing levels of government sanctioned violence.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, widely known as SARS, has been terrorizing Nigerian citizens for decades. According to a study done by Amnesty International, there were at least 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020. The majority of the victims targeted come from low-income backgrounds.
While SARS was officially disbanded earlier this month and its officers redistributed within the police force, this is not enough. Major systemic change must take place to end the vicious cycle of police violence Nigeria is faced with, a challenge the United States must also take on.
So protests continue.
Things came to a head on Tuesday during a peaceful demonstration at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, where protesters have gathered for weeks. A local newspaper calculated that the state government had lost N234 million (roughly $600,000).
Around midday, people began to panic as workers removed all security cameras around the toll gate. They took to social media to document what was happening and warn those still at the toll gate to leave before things grew violent. Just as night fell, the lights were shut off and soldiers began to open fire.
Despite the government’s efforts to conceal their horrific actions, there are multiple factors they did not count on.
For one, most people nowadays have cameras in their cell phones and hundreds of people were recording. Witnesses posted images, videos, tweets and even live streamed what was happening. Millions of people watched as the gruesome acts were put on display for the world to see.
Yet, the Nigerian government has denied employing the soldiers who carried out the massacre and has gone as far as to claim that no one was even killed.
On today’s episode of The Breakdown, Shaun unpacks and explains the fight against police brutality going on in Nigeria and why we all must unite under the fight for Black lives.