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Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: Americans must educate themselves on SARS

<p>People are obligated to walk with their hands upon their heads as they pass security checkpoints Oct. 23 at Obalende Market, Lagos, Nigeria. </p>

People are obligated to walk with their hands upon their heads as they pass security checkpoints Oct. 23 at Obalende Market, Lagos, Nigeria.

What started as protests in Nigeria against a corrupt and violent police system has now turned into a worldwide movement — #EndSARS. It is gaining attention from celebrities around the world.

Nigerians have been protesting the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) in their country since its creation in 1992 because the police force has a history of hurting the people it is meant to serve. SARS was created as a task force to stop armed robbery and other serious crimes in Nigeria.

Current protests were mostly peaceful until Oct. 20 when SARS police officers and soldiers fired into a crowd of protestors. This angered Nigerians even more — peaceful protests turned into looting and vandalism, with 17 police stations reportedly being destroyed in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria.

During the shootings and protests at least 46 people died. The day has now been named “Black Tuesday,” a day to forever be remembered not only in Nigeria but by the entire world.

The safety and security of Nigeria’s people are still in danger while the police officers vowed to put a stop to the violent protests. The Inspector General of the Nigerian Police Force, Mohammed Adamu put more police units in all 36 states of Nigeria. He also put a curfew into effect in some states to “halt this further slide into lawlessness and brigandage.” 

Soon after the creation, SARS became the same people it was supposed to stop — thieves and violent criminals. There have been reports from Nigerians that they were terrorized by SARS. Videos and reports by citizens prove they steal from, beat and rape Nigerian citizens.

The task force has also been accused of widespread human rights abuse, killings and torture. 

Ekene is a 24-year-old student who was arrested in 2015. SARS officers told his family his life would not be guaranteed unless they paid $317. Once the family paid, Ekene was released. The family took no further action out of fear of SARS.

Today protests continue to end SARS. In 2016, the Nigerian government acknowledged the problem with the task force and promised to remove it, but SARS still remains.  

#EndSARS has become viral on social media in the last few weeks due to the uproar of protest and violence in Nigeria. This has allowed Nigerians to speak and show these problems to the world, while also giving people around the world a chance to educate themselves and try to help stop this problem.

Now major celebrities such as Beyoncé and Rihanna have used their voices and power to add awareness to this problem. 

There are also ways to donate to different organizations trying to help this fight.

A history of police brutality is something that a lot of Black Americans can relate to. By educating ourselves and spreading awareness around the world, we can do our part to #EndsSARS.

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