Everything You Need to Know About Ending SARS

You may have seen the hashtag #ENDSARS floating around the internet the past couple of weeks, but do you really know what it means? Here's everything you need to know on the matter, condensed. SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) is a highly contentious policing unit based in Nigeria. “In 1992, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was formed to combat armed robbery and other serious crimes.” (Aljazeera). Originally, crime was supposed to be kept at bay by the Nigerian Police Force, but because of how rampant armed robbery had become in the nation, police departments all around Nigeria had created separate units assigned to the problem anyway. As the frequency of the crimes continued to grow, police officer Simeon Danladi Midenda and 15 of his fellow officers ended up founding SARS as an attempt to finally bring the crimes to a stop.  

Now at the beginning of its inception, things weren't too bad. SARS officials would mostly monitor communication between popular armed robbers and didn't even carry weapons. But after SARS started to become more and more recognized, it seems they forgot their original goal; to protect the Nigerian people. Ironically they started to steal from the people, began to carry firearms (without wearing official uniforms) and began to terrorize the people. The problem with unmarked police is that people don't know they are police, which puts civilians at a disadvantage in their reaction. If someone in regular clothes that you didn't know stopped you, how would you react?

BLM Peaceful Protesters, holding signs Photo by Fibonacci Blue from Flickr

After videos of SARS officers torturing citizens went viral, Nigerians took to the streets to protest this obvious abuse of power. And the gag is that this is not the first or second time the Nigerian government has promised the people that they would intervene. This is the fourth time the Nigerian government has told the people that they would reform/disband the SARS group, but alas, as people continue to protest (peacefully until police counter with violence like tear gas), tension continues to rise as the police have continued to respond violently. Lives are being lost as a result. The problem isn't even just with SARS at this point. It's the abuse of power by the people we trust to protect us, and the government doing sh*t all. 

Ending police brutality and police reform have subsequently become the goal as SARS being terminated wouldn't be enough for the citizens to feel protected. Just like with all things, awareness of this issue is the first step in the right direction. As most of us live in America, we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to those around us. We can't only support police reform for Black people here and forget about our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, or really anywhere. Justice for Black people everywhere is what we should be trying to accomplish. It's not the time to be selfish with our time or energy. Call your local officials. Vote people who can and will listen to power. With everything going on in the world, we need each other more than ever. And if you have the means, you should be doing everything in your power to help.