Chicago is reeling after José Nieves, an unarmed man, was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in the city’s Hermosa neighborhood last week. Police officials have confirmed that Nieves was unarmed when a 57-year-old mass transit officer fatally shot him. Police have not released the name of the officer who shot Nieves, but have placed him on desk duty.
“The person who was shot did not have a weapon. That much we know. The officer’s weapon is the only one we found,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the press during a news conference.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters, “I have a lot more questions than I have answers at this time.”
It was not the first time the officer and Nieves had interacted.
Chicago police, who confirmed that Nieves and the officer in question had a previous disagreement, say they are trying to construct a timeline of events leading up to the shooting. The incident remains under investigation.
Angelica Nieves, the victim’s sister, says her brother was previously harassed and threatened by the armed officer.
“He would complain about the guy pulling out his gun at him, him coming home from work. More than once, he’s called 911. They’ve gone to the apartment. They’ve gone there. They don’t do nothing about it. He’s an officer,” Angelica told CBS Chicago.
Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!
You’ve probably seen the social media posts while scrolling through Twitter or Instagram. Young Nigerians are calling on the public to take notice of the brutality they are facing at home. They post tweets describing terror and violence at the hands of a brutal and powerful police force. They hashtag their posts with #EndSARS.
For non-Nigerians, the call to action can be confusing. What is SARS? Why is the movement calling to end it suddenly everywhere? And why are Nigerians calling for an end to it in the first place? Below, we’ve broken down the #EndSARS movement so it is easy to understand.
What is SARS?
SARS (which stands for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad) is a section of the Nigerian police department that was made in 1992 to combat armed robbery. The unit was also in charge of dealing with other similar violent crimes, like kidnapping and car theft. Since their inception, the officers have operated outside the law harassing citizens (mostly men) without good reason. Many of them don’t even wear uniforms or nametags.
Why are Nigerians protesting SARS?
Since it’s creation, SARS has become corrupt and has been accused of violating human rights in a myriad of ways. According to The Washington Post, SARS has been responsible for “extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, armed extortion and kidnapping.”
The unit’s officers especially target young people with flashy clothes, cars, or expensive devices, like laptops or smart phones. Usually, only way to get out of SARS custody is through a bribe. It is worth noting that Nigeria is a young country–40% of the population comprised of people under thirty.
What started this round of protests?
Although the first use of the #EndSARS hashtag was documented in 2017, the movement took on a new life in early October, 2020. On October 3rd, a video went viral of SARS police officers shooting a young man and driving away in his luxury SUV. It was then that young Nigerians, including popular celebrities, organized protests calling for an end to SARS.
“Nigeria is facing a reckoning, one that is long overdue,” said professor of global affairs and politics Yetunde Omede to CNN. “With a growing youth bulge of under 30 years old, Nigeria can no longer ignore the demands of young people.”
What has been the government response?
Unfortunately, the government initially met the anti-SARS protests with violence. On October 20th, Nigerian soldiers killed at least 10 protestors who were blocking a highway in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos. That same night, Amnesty International reported that the military and the police force killed 38 Nigerians altogether and many more were injured. It was soon dubbed the Lekki Massacre and served as a snapchat of the brutality that protestors faced in the past month. The incident further inflamed young Nigerians.
On October 11th, the Nigerian government announced that they were dissolving SARS. But the dissolution came with caveats. According to the Nigeria Police Force, SARS officers will be “redeployed” to different police units and a new anti-theft police force will soon be “unveiled.”
What changes do Nigerians want?
Many Nigerians (who are already distrustful of the government) were skeptical of this pronouncement. In response, young Nigerians released their “Five Demands” which they believe will adequately address the wrongdoings of SARS.
The demands include asking for the release of arrested protestors, compensation for the victims of police brutality, re-training of former SARS officers before they’re redeployed, and adequate compensation for officers (presumably so they’re not so tempted to demand bribes). As for whether the Nigerian government will heed the demands of Nigeria’s youth, that remains to be seen.
Earlier this month, a police officer in Santiago, Chile was captured on video pushing a 16-year-old male demonstrator off of a bridge. The boy fell into the canal below, fracturing his wrist and suffering head trauma. He was transported to the hospital and is in stable condition.
The violent video sparked an additional wave of protests against the Carabineros–Chile’s militarized national police force that the officer was a part of.
Before the video surfaced, witnesses who were protesting voiced their anger at the police officer’s actions and demanded that he be brought to justice. Initially, a spokesperson for the Carabineros, General Enrique Monrás, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the officer, claiming that the boy “lost balance and fell”.
Monrás claimed the police force even had footage that refuted the purported events. But when the footage of the boy being pushed over the bridge went public, there was no question as to what happened.
The footage of the incident went viral in Chile, prompting a surge of demonstrations and protests in Santiago–a city already racked with civil unrest.
Days later, Chile opened up an investigation against the police officer, saying the officer “gave false information to the Prosecutor’s Office” and had “abandoned the victim” after throwing him off the bridge. The officer’s lawyer says he was following procedure. Nevertheless, by then the damage had been done.
Following the incident, protestors threw red die into the canal, making it look like it was running red with the metaphorical blood of protestors. The protests are part of an ongoing civil unrest that was sparked by economic inequality in Chile as well as President Sebastián Piñera’s failure to address the people’s concerns.
To make matters worse, the Piñera government has responded to the protests with excessive violence.
In the last year, Chile has been making headlines for permanently blinding protestors with rubber bullets. Protestors claim that Caballeros are deliberately shooting people in the eyes, aiming to blind them for life.
This most recent incident has simply served to bolster the protestors’ claims that they are being treated brutally by the Chilean government. “The police are violent. We can’t bear it anymore,” said a protestor named Carmen Soria to Al Jazeera News. “They’ve raped, tortured, run people over, blinded others, and now, they’re throwing people in the Mapocho river. The government doesn’t want us to protest, doesn’t want us to gather together, but they don’t care that we gather in the busses and in subways like sardines to go to work.”