Texans Join Worldwide End SARS Protests
By Alyssa Crosby
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — The End SARS movement came to Austin with the help of University of Texas students.
Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS for short, gained worldwide attention following an October 3 video that appears to show officers shoot and kill a young man in Ughelli.
UT’s African Student Organization helped organize the October 16 protest. Dozens of students and Austinites marched from UT’s campus to the Texas Capitol and back. They chanted “End SARS” and held up signs, drawing honks of support from passersby.
Problems with SARS officers started well before October 3. Amnesty International documented at least 82 documented cases of torture, ill-treatment, or execution between January 2017 and May 2020.
Texas has the largest population of Nigerian-born residents in the United States with about 40,000, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Chidera Nwaiwu, a Nigerian-American who serves as President of the Texas African Student Organization, often travels to Nigeria to visit family friends.
“Anytime [my family] visits, we see firsthand the corruptness of the Nigerian government and the corruptness of the police, especially,” Nwaiwu said. “It’s just so messed up.”
Dominique LaVigne attended the October 16 demonstration. She had not known much about the situation, but decided to go when her roommate texted her about the protest that morning.
“To me, it was really important to reach out and participate in this protest because even though I’m not Nigerian, I know a lot of Nigerian people, and issues that matter to them also matter to me,” LaVigne said.
“I think it’s important to participate so that we can be unified and make a change.”
Numerous celebrities and politicians offered support for protesters in recent days, including Hillary Clinton, Beyoncé Knowles, and John Boyega.
Many welcomed the support, but some questioned the impact such demonstrations will have on the situation in Nigeria.
Nosa Omorotionmwan, Membership & Diversity Chair of the African Student Organization, rejected this argument.
“You can’t look at other people experiencing the same things as you and then just [say] ‘Oh, that doesn’t concern me.’ Imagine if people had the same attitude towards us,” Omorotionmwan said. “It’s counterintuitive.”
The protests show no signs of slowing down, with more protests planned in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and around the world.
Nwaiwu is glad for the attention.
“It sucks that it took this much to get this attention, but I’m very glad it’s happening because much-needed reform needs to happen,” she said.