Category Archives: Protests

Support Protests in Nigeria!

New Orleans     It’s small world.  Marva Burnett, the president of ACORN Canada and ACORN International, visited several cities in Nigeria last year with her church group.  She met a young man named Edem Etido in Port Harcourt, a large city much farther southwest from Lagos, the mega-city, but also along the Gulf of Guinea, nearer to Cameroon.  I talked to Edem via Skype about his interest in organizing ACORN Nigeria, and how we could get him some training.  I promised to visit him when I was scheduled to be in Nigeria.  The pandemic postponed that visit three times with the latest now pushed back to the spring of 2021, but in the last week I’ve heard from Edem several times via Facebook and email.  Protests have broken out in Port Harcourt and throughout the country, triggered initially over police brutality suffered by young people, but now expanding to a host of other issues over corruption, the economy, and the inaction of government.

His message was simple and straightforward, as he wrote,

The youths in my country need international support for what we are advocating for at the moment. I guess you’ve heard or watched the protest that’s ongoing in Nigeria now?

The hashtag that’s trending on Twitter now #EndSars #EndPoliceBrutality is the ongoing protest by the youths here because, the (SARS) which means-Special Anti-Robbery Squad, have gone out from what their primary duties are, which is to protect lives and properties of the Nation and citizens.  All they do is intimidate, harass, and extort youths at gunpoint while also killing youths for no reason, because nobody is gonna query or prosecute them.

We’ve been on this for more than a week now and all our governments could do is just make verbal and audio promises which they have been doing way back since 2015 and we are fed up with fake promises, so we demand full action, and that’s why the protest is ongoing.

We just heard that they are going to send the military to intimidate and shoot at us for the peaceful protest. No country has said anything about this and it’s not fair. I don’t know how ACORN International could help to make this protest go round over there, so as to get the international attentions we need.

If I hadn’t heard of these protests already from Edem, and if you hadn’t heard of them yet, there was a front page picture that jumped later to a story in the Wall Street Journal, because the protests shut down the city of Lagos along with its airport and main thoroughfares.

How can we help?  There’s a petition that the young people hope to send to the United Nations that you can signYou can also make a donation to support the protests.  As the article points out, “More than 55% of Nigerians are underemployed or unemployed and youth unemployment is even higher, according to official statistics. More than 90% of Nigerians work in the informal sector….”  People in Nigeria are desperate for change, so anything we can do, small or large, helps make that possible.

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Scary Police Crowd Control Tactics

New Orleans      My ears perked up as I was listening to a radio broadcaster in Austin relate a story about a novel and dangerous police crowd control tactic used to break up a demonstration.  In his telling, a mobile squad of police bicycle cops swooped down on the protestors at breakneck speed, sending protestors fleeing in all directions and disbursing the crowd.  My perceived threat alert response went into high gear.  Were bicycles the “new” horses for crowd control?  Was this one-off or increasingly common practice?

On the chat, another listener posted a link to something even scarier that discussed the “tiger mountain tactical” program.  These folks were moonlighting police making the case that they were hell-on-wheels crowd control specialists with experience in major demos dating back to 1999 and the World Trade Organization showdown in Seattle.  Many of their references were with local cop shops in the Washington State area, but they also included Orlando, Tampa, New York City, St. Louis and other US cities along with trainings in Dubai, France, and Switzerland.  That’s pretty scary stuff in my book, because it is all premised-on protestors being faced with the likely probability of being hurt.

Kettling is another tactic in the handbook of police peril.  I’ll never forget ACORN Canada organizers describing to me their experience of going to a similar trade demo in Toronto a decade ago and suddenly finding themselves kettled there, feeling physically trapped, and fortunate to escape without injury.  Kettling involves police encircling demonstrators, which they sometimes call “trap and detain.”  Supposedly it was first used to contain 800 anti-nuke demonstrators for several hours near Hamburg, Germany.  Actually, reports indicate it was a favored tactic of the German military in World War II, which hardly recommends it!  This is evil stuff, my friends.

One of the most outrageous phenomena that we have seen during the pandemic and the protests over everything from Black Lives Matter to masks back to the outrages in Charlottesville, Virginia over the removal of statutes, has been the conversion of personal vehicles into weapons of mass destruction used to ram and kill protestors.  Through the first six months of the year there were more than fifty such incidents in protests around the United States.  Talking to LaGanzie Kale of KLEK in Jonesboro, Arkansas, who was live broadcasting a BLM march in his city as a black SUV tried to ram protestors, it was a relief and seemed a miracle that no one was hurt, but that may be the exception, not the rule.  Surprisingly, another link was shared during the discussion where the police in Louisville used a SWAT vehicle to ram a jeep trying to leave a car-caravan protest of 200 vehicles, first claiming the SWAT vehicle was rammed by the civilian, rather than the other way around.

Let’s be honest.  These police tactics are not about crowd control.  They are aggressive, antagonistic, and militaristic.  They are about pitting police against people, which fuels the fire, rather than dampening it.  When police see themselves at war against the community and implement tactics in line with that vision, we, and our society, are all in deadly danger.

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