Sudbury's Nigerian community demanding an end to SARS
SUDBURY -- It was a cool and wet morning at Sudbury's Memorial Park as demonstrators braved the elements to send Nigeria a message, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and more importantly police brutality has to end.
They came carrying signs and Nigerian flags, they're calling on the international community to take a stand against police violence.
"Right now what happens is if you have an iPhone, you have a laptop and you're a little bit well-to-do, SARS actually profiles you and asks you to give them money and if you don't give them money, they lock you up in jail, they make you sleep there overnight and your parents, your family look for you, sometimes people are killed, raped, sometimes they are raped," said organizer David Onalo.
Onalo, who’s been living in Sudbury for two years, says he's had several run-ins with the police unit and each and every time they demanded the same thing, money from those they profile on the street.
One-by-one, those who wanted to share their personal stories of involvement with the Nigerian police took the microphone.
The country's police force has disbanded SARS and replaced it with a new unit called Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) but many at Memorial Park says it will not end the practice of 'heavy-handed' policing. They want a complete overhaul of the justice system.
"To every country around the world that has been investing in training Nigerian policemen, we're asking you to re-evaluate where you invest your money, you cannot invest in arms that are being used to kill Nigerians," said Enoch Anekwe.
Fresh protests have been taking place in the African nation itself, including Lagos, Port Harcourt and Uya. At least 10 have been killed during the civil unrest.
Other solidarity protests were said to be happening in several Canadian cities this weekend including Toronto and Calgary.