Stephen Oduntan, Staff
A group of about 100 Nigerian diasporas rallied Sunday afternoon outside the CNN building on Sunset Blvd, waving flags and calling for police reforms in Nigeria.
The crowd of protesters chanted “End SARS Now,” and held homemade signs while about a dozen police officers stood nearby on their bicycle watching. There were no reports of any arrests.
This is the latest in a series of protests staged in support of Nigerians as tensions remain high after the youth took to the streets across Africa’s most populous country calling for the removal of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
It started on October 3rd of this year when a video of SARS officials allegedly killed a young Nigerian man and went viral, prompting a level of protests that were previously unseen. The youth started the hashtag #EndSars which quickly picked up steam, spreading to Nigerian diaspora communities in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.
“We need to send a message about what’s happening in Nigeria. The fight in Nigeria is a fight in Los Angeles, it’s a fight in Paris, it’s a fight in London, and it’s a fight in every city of the world. A lot of African-Americans are descendants of Nigeria. We need to stand for each other just like we stand up for Black Lives Matter; we have to stand to together against SARS, said Ade Koko, one of the protesters at Sunday’s demonstration.
The protests have also been backed by global celebrities such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, US rapper Kanye West, footballers Mesut Ozil and Marcus Rashford as well as Nigerian superstars Davido and Wizkid.
Uzochigoziri Obiefule said he wanted a better future for Nigeria and that’s why it was imperative he played his part in raising awareness on this issue.
“We are all here in America living a good life while our brothers and sisters are really suffering back home. Enough is enough. SARS has killed a lot of people. That’s why we’ve come out today to say SARS must end,” he said.
SARS officers are accused of extortion, torture, and murder.
Notably, the anti-SARS movement has made staggering gains in just two weeks.
In an unprecedented response to some of the demands, the Nigerian government vowed to disband SARS, set up of panels to investigate and prosecute rogue police officers and implement broader police reforms.
“We’re not going to wait till 2023,” said Ronke Ogunleye. “The government must end Sars now. Nigeria is my country, and I would love to go back home. I would love to take my children back home as well.”
Ogunleye said she’d been living in the U.S. for over 20 years but wouldn’t have left Nigeria to live abroad if corruption and bad government didn’t plague the oil-rich country.
“This is really not my home because we’re not accepted here. The police are here killing Black people. But I believe if Nigeria straightened up its act, Nigerians and African-Americans would have a home to go back to, and so it is important that we fix Nigeria and Africa, too, because when Africa is great, no police out here will look down on us. This is why it’s important we fix Nigeria. But we cannot fix Nigeria without holding our leaders accountable. The Nigerian government instituted SARS, and now they can’t control them” Ogunleye said.