UT-Austin students march against police brutality in Nigeria in #EndSARS protest

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Chidera Nwaiwu, kinesiology senior and president of the African Students Organization, addresses protestors in front of the State Capitol Building on Oct. 16. The protesters gathered in opposition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a Nigerian police unit that has been disbanded and replaced by the Special Weapons and Tactics unit (SWAT). 

Photo Credit: Jack Myer | Daily Texan Staff

Dozens of students gathered to protest police brutality in Nigeria in a march from campus to the Texas Capitol building Friday afternoon.

Protest organizer Angie Adeyemo said she and the African Students Organization held the protest to bring local awareness to injustices committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. According to BBC, SARS is a police unit in Nigeria accused of torture and extrajudicial killing. 

The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team has replaced SARS, according to BBC, but demonstrators across the world still believe injustice will continue. Solidarity protests against SARS have taken place all over the world, in cities ranging from London to Toronto, according to CNN.

“We’re all here, students of UT, the African Students Organization … to show our solidarity for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria,” said Adeyemo, a chemical engineering fifth-year.

The protest started in front of Gregory Gym, where demonstrators chanted “End SARS Now!” as they walked to the UT Tower, carrying signs with sayings such as  “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and “Say No to Police Brutality.”

“Buhari has been a bad boy,” one protest sign said, referring to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. According to The New York Times, Buhari has vowed to address police brutality in Nigeria and dismantle SARS. However, protestors remain skeptical change will happen.

In front of the Tower, several protest leaders gave speeches, and Adeyemo led a moment to honor SARS victims. Protestors took a knee while Adeyemo read out of dozens of victims’ names. 

 

“No more lives need to be lost in Nigeria,” Adeyemo said in a speech. “No more lies from the government. They claimed to end (SARS) and replaced it with SWAT. A different name, the same wolf.”

From the Tower, the protestors started marching towards the Texas Capitol building, chanting phrases such as “No justice, no peace!” and “End SARS! End SWAT!” Several people drove by in cars, honking their horns and holding up fists of solidarity. Some marchers draped themselves in Nigerian flags.

Pearl Abue, a chemical engineering masters student, said she attended the protest to help shed light on the brutality in Nigeria, her home country.

“SARS has been terrorizing Nigerian youth for the longest time,” Abue said. “If I can contribute to the fight that we’re all fighting in my country here, then I’m going to do it. Even if it’s just by coming out and letting the world know what we go through and what people in Nigeria are going through.”

In front of the Capitol, Adeyemo gave another speech, encouraging people to support Nigeria by donating and reading people’s stories through the #EndSARS hashtag on Twitter.

“Nowhere should police violence be allowed … and that’s why we say ‘End SARS Now,’” Adeyemo said.