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#EndSARS, explained

A quick look at the #EndSARS movement, which has drawn reaction from multiple celebrities

People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality, in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday Oct. 20, 2020. After 13 days of protests against police brutality, authorities have imposed a 24-hour curfew in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city as moves are made to stop growing violence.
People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, on Tuesday Oct. 20, 2020.
Sunday Alamba, Associated Press

A new grassroots movement to end police brutality has caught the attention of the United States, celebrities and the entire world, and it’s only going to grow.

What is #EndSARS?

The #EndSARS campaign began in 2017 when Nigerian activities looked to end the federal police force, which is called Special Anti-Robber Squad, according to The Washington Post.

  • SARS — not to be confused with the norovirus of the same name — has been in power for almost 30 years. The unit has allegedly abused its power on people, which has included beatings, sexual assault, waterboarding and similar abuses.

#EndSARS went viral across the internet more recently after video footage showed officers dragging two men into a hotel and shooting one outside, The Guardian reports.

  • Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu announced on Oct. 11 SARS would be disbanded. Officers were later since to other units, USA Today reports.
  • Protests erupted in West Africa. The hashtag began to spread. And now it has reached global proportions.

Reactions:

Now, celebrities have weighed in. Beyonce, Rihanna, Drake and Cardi B all tweeted the hashtag.

  • Beyonce said: “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 by you.”

Democratic nominee Joe Biden called for police reform in Nigeria as well.

  • “I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths. My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence. The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy. I encourage the government to engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society to address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria.”

Kanye West said: “I will stand with my Nigerian brothers and sisters to end police brutality, the government must answer to the peoples cries.”

What’s happening now?

Government officials have begun to crack down on protesters and the unrest within Nigeria. According to The Cut, multiple videos and photos show law enforcement using tear gas and firing bullets into crowds.

Nigerian police reportedly opened fire on protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, according to BBC News. One person died in the attack.

What can you do?

Multiple groups — like Nigeria-based Feminist Coalition — are accepting donations to help end the police brutality.

The Cut suggests writing letters to Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney General Abubakar Malami, telling them to take action. You can do so through the Amnesty International website.