For nearly two weeks, there have been daily protests in Nigeria over accusations of kidnapping, harassment, and extortion made against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit. Things got even more serious yesterday when demonstrators were reportedly shot by SARS officers. The situation has captured the attention of people abroad, including Beyonce, who shared a message about it.
Taking to her BeyGOOD Twitter account, she wrote, “I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria. There has to be an end to SARS. We have been working on partnerships with youth organizations to support those protesting for change. We are collaborating with coalitions to provide emergency healthcare, food and shelter. To our Nigerian sisters and brothers, we stand with you. Please visit Beyonce.com for a list of organizations to show your support.”
As Al Jazeera notes, SARS was established in 1984 as the country battled rising levels of crime and kidnappings. The unit was initially successful, but Fulani Kwajafa, who created the unit, recently said, “SARS of today is not the same SARS I established in 1984. [It has been] turned into banditry.” The new wave of protests was sparked after a viral video allegedly showed SARS officers killing a young man. Authorities denied the authenticity of the video and arrested the man who filmed it.