On Oct. 3, a video of a SARS, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, officer unprovokingly killing a young man in southern Nigeria went viral on social media platforms. Though Nigerian officials claimed the video was fake and arrested the individual that shared the video, this only escalated the problem as protests broke out across Nigeria.
However, this instance of police brutality did not begin with the video recently. According to The New York Times, Amnesty International reported at least 82 events of SARS’ violence against Nigerians between Jan. 2017 and May 2020.
Originally created in 1984 as a response to a surge of violent crime in Nigeria, the Nigerian people say that SARS has become the problem they were created to combat. Nigeria has had rising economic growth rates since the 1990s, creating a middle class fueled by a developing technological sector, according to Vox. In return, Nigeria’s young population has gotten access to branded cars, clothing and phones in recent years. But SARS has been terrorizing Nigeria’s youth for owning these items, incorrectly assuming that they have only gotten them through robbery and illegal activities.
The video shared in early October acted as a catalyst for the protest against police brutality in Nigeria, and has sparked the #EndSARS movement. According to CNN, protests initially aimed to shut down the police force, but they have shifted to a call for police and government reform in Nigeria. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to shut down SARS has failed to bring peace to the country, as SARS officers continue to act violently towards protestors and the targeted middle class.
#EndSARS’ prominence on social media has garnered the movement both attention and support from the whole world.
“I think it’s great to use social media as a way of spreading news,” Miami Palmetto Senior High junior Cayetana Jaramillo said.
Jaramillo runs her own newsletter on Instagram, @the.loopnews, that focuses on engaging Generation Z on current events.
“I feel like it should totally be taken advantage of to gain momentum and a greater audience… you’re able to mobilize people in greater amounts…,” Jaramillo said.
Jaramillo is currently working on gathering information and resources on the #EndSARS that she could share on her page.
“Not only is it important for people to know about world affairs even if you live in the U.S., I think it relates a lot to what’s happening domestically here,” Jaramillo said. “This SARS movement basically parallels what happened in May, June and July, and I think we should realize that the problem is not just here.”