HOUSTON - The Nigerian community in Houston gathered to protest the violence happening in their home country and bring awareness to the End SARS movement on Wednesday.
The gory videos capturing the senseless violence in Nigeria is eye-opening to many. But for many Nigerian natives, it’s a sight they’re fed up with seeing.
For the last two weeks, the African nation has been swarmed by young protesters demanding an end to the government’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad – a controversial police unit known as SARS.
SARS is notorious for abusing their power and is allegedly responsible for kidnapping, torturing, and extorting detainees.
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On Wednesday, the Nigerian community in Houston, the largest in the U.S., called for an end to the brutality after multiple peaceful demonstrators were reportedly killed by gunfire from Nigerian soldiers.
"Genocide is happening in Nigeria and we say no to genocide," said Yemi Sholotan, the protest organizer. “It was like an ambush. They turned out the lights in the streets. They turned off the cameras."
"They turned off the cameras around the toll gates and then began to shoot live bullets. Live. As if you don’t have a heart or a mind. I think it’s very barbaric and it goes to show that the movement was genuinely started based on this brutality," said Linda Anukwuem, a Nigerian-American living in Houston.
"We are out here today to ask for help from the American government and the international community to come to our aid so that they can stop killing children in Nigeria," Sholotan said.
The Nigerian community is now demanding better leadership from their government, after some of their own family members, have fallen victim to corruption.
"It's happened to my parents. My parents were driving in Nigeria. My uncle was driving the car and my parents were stopped. The police asked for money. They said in order to go, you need to give us money," said Peter Uwalaka.
"It’s scary that leadership is watching people die and it seems to be okay," Uwalaka continued.
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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee addressed Houston protesters, saying she’s now calling on other US leaders to intervene and take action.
"We have now asked Secretary of State Pompeo, to stand in opposition right now to the actions going on in Nigeria," Lee said.
The End SARS movement has also caught the attention of several celebrities like Beyonce, Rihanna, and Trevor Noah, a South African native. They're now using their platforms to bring awareness to the issue.