Nigerians rally against police brutality with #EndSARS campaign

American celebrities began speaking up about Nigerian police brutality

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Nigerians are leading a series of mass protests as citizens demand police officers stop brutalizing everyday people.

Although protests have broken out in many parts of the country, a spotlight has been cast on Lagos, the most populous state in the country.

Image during #EndSARS protests (via social media/CNN)

The Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) has been harassing and extorting young people and targeting those who have dreads, are dressed in nice clothing or driving nice cars.

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SARS is also responsible for killing innocent people and some are accusing the force of kidnapping people.

The protests started on Thursday on Lagos Island after two Nigerian celebrities, Folarin Falana, a lawyer and singer, and artist Runtown mobilized, according to CNN.

The two celebrities were soon joined by others including Tiwa Savage, who is regarded as one of Nigeria’s most prominent female performers.

SARS has been documented between 2017 and 2020 to have 82 cases of police brutality by Amnesty International, although social media is constantly buzzing with new allegations – almost daily.

“Detainees in SARS custody have been subjected to a variety of methods of torture including hanging, mock execution, beating, punching and kicking, burning with cigarettes, waterboarding, near-asphyxiation with plastic bags, forcing detainees to assume stressful bodily positions and sexual violence,” according to Amnesty International’s report.

The protests have been peaceful, but there has been open fire from by SARS officers.

On Friday, however, the Nigerian protests gained traction on social media. Nigerians used the hashtag #EndSARS and #StopPolicebrutality on Twitter, to share their stories, photos and videos about how SARS has been harassing and killing their loved ones.

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When the hashtags started to trend, it garnered the attention from American celebrities who share a disdain for corruption in law enforcement.

There has been effort to reduce the SARS unit in order to better civilian-police relations. However, Amnesty International said not much has changed since the efforts began in January, 2019.

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