Mathare residents protest police brutality

Mathare residents protest police brutality
Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against police killings and brutality, in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, June 8, 2020. PHOTO | REUTERS

Residents of Mathare slum marched Monday to protest police brutality in the enforcement of a curfew that is part of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement last week, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) said 15 deaths allegedly linked to police action since the dusk-to-dawn curfew was put in place in late March are under investigation.

Rights groups say the police are responsible for more than 20 deaths associated with curfew enforcement.

The IPOA says they have received 87 complaints about police behaviour since the curfew started March 27.

In addition to the killings, the IPOA said complaints accused police of assaults and general harassment.

Monday’s demonstrations took place in and around the densely populated slum, despite warnings from authorities that protesters could face jail for gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many protestors were seen wearing masks.

March organizers say that while their protests are not directly related to the U.S. and global protests sparked by the death of the George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police last month, there are parallels in that police brutality in Kenya often goes unpunished.

At least one protestor could be seen wearing a mask with “I can’t breathe” written on it, in reference to Floyd’s last words.

One Nairobi protestor told the French news agency, AFP: “It is important to stand in solidarity with victims of brutality both locally and globally.”

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