Artists and DJs are voicing their support for #EndSARS demonstrators in Nigeria after government forces shot at crowds during an anti-police brutality protest this week.
Amnesty International has reported that at least 12 protestors were killed and hundreds more injured during a demonstration at the Lekki toll gate in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, on Tuesday, 20th October. Following the imposition of a 24-hour curfew by the state governor on Tuesday, witnesses reported that the Nigerian military opened fire on protestors without warning. One witness told the BBC that soldiers “were firing and they were advancing straight at us. It was chaos. Somebody got hit straight beside me and he died on the spot".
Musicians and DJs including Nigerian Afrobeats stars Burna Boy and Wizkid, Lagos’ DJ Switch (pictured), Anz, Giant Swan, Flohio, Juba, KG, Anu, Dave and Skepta have vocalised their support for the #EndSARS movement. Some have encouraged fans to donate to various fundraisers in aid of protestors, including The Feminist Coalition.
Demonstrations began two weeks ago, after a video was circulated online showing officers from the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, dragging two men from a hotel in Lagos, and shooting one of them in the street. The video prompted mass public outcry, with hundreds sharing evidence of further atrocities by the unit. SARS, which was established in 1992, has a long-standing and notorious reputation for brutality, torture, corruption and other human rights violations.
DJ Switch, real name Obianuju Catherine Udeh, was present at Tuesday’s protest, and live-streamed the demonstration via her Instagram, during which she described the casualties around her, the New York Times reports. In a video shared to her timeline on Tuesday, she spoke about the protests, stating that “something just has to give”. She said that she was proud to see people of all ages out in the streets protesting peacefully, but that it was “not near enough”. “I’m not trying to instigate anyone,” she said. “But I’m telling you that it hasn’t reached boiling point”. In the video, she went on to accuse the government of discrediting peaceful protestors, and asked them “call it a day” and “retire”, adding: “We need young, innovative thinkers as our leaders".
She added: “This is beyond SARS right now. And just so you know it hasn’t reached boiling point. So do what is right before it reaches boiling point because the change that I see coming most likely will have to go that route... There is no change that has not come with sacrifice”.
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Initial #EndSARS demonstrations throughout Nigeria prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to officially declare the dissolution of SARS on 11th October, promising that the government “will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct are brought to justice”. Protests continued, however, with many believing that Buhari’s promise was hollow. Speaking to The New York Times, one protestor, Olasunkanmi Amoo, said: “We’re coming back tomorrow. We don’t trust him, and we don’t believe him.”
At the beginning of October, Burna Boy launched PROJECTPROTECT, an initiative to provide financial, medical and legal resources during and after #EndSARS protests. Following the announcement of SARS’ dissolution, he shared a statement on Twitter: "My greatest concern in all of this is that SARS will end now as it allegedly has multiple times (I recall giving calls to end SARS during my USA tour in April 2019) and morph into a different entity down the line with a different form or a different name. In my opinion, abolishing the unit is a definite first step, but we cannot stop there”. Since, he has continued to be vocal on social media, calling for continued action in the movement against police violence in Nigeria.
Nigerian Diasporans Against Sars have set up a fundraiser in aid of protestors, with all being proceeds distributed between a number of "verified and vetted grassroots organizations”, such as LifeBank, Feminist Co and Kokun Foundation.
Julie Adenuga has also shared a radio special with further information and converstaion about the #EndSARS movement. She is joined by the founders of Soro Soke radio, which was launched by protestors in order to share updates and information about the movement. You can listen to Adenuga's show on No Signal radio here.
Stop the Killing of Innocent Nigerians. pic.twitter.com/BppPGcQGDV
— Burna Boy (@burnaboy) October 21, 2020
— Juba (@jubamusicldn) October 17, 2020
— KG (@KarenNyameKG) October 20, 2020
— Robin Giant Swan (@GiantGiantSwan) October 21, 2020
THEY ARE KILLING OUR PEOPLE. OUR HEARTS ARE HEAVY. #EndSARS
— SANTAN (@Santandave1) October 21, 2020