NAIROBI – Kenyan police on Tuesday fired tear gas and detained protesters demanding an end to police brutality.
About 100 people took part in demonstrations across the capital, Nairobi. Many Kenyans have been angered by a fresh wave of alleged police abuses while enforcing coronavirus restrictions.
“We are not armed and we just wanted to take our petition very peacefully, but as you can see they are very armed, they have arrested some of us and they have injured some of us,” protester David Oluoch said.
Nairobi-area police boss Philip Ndolo said nearly 30 people had been arrested and that protesters had not been “observing distance” for the coronavirus pandemic. “It's dangerous to hold such meetings now,” he said.
A protest organizer said 56 people had been arrested.
Human rights activists say at least 22 people, including a 13-year-old boy, have been killed by officers enforcing the virus restrictions. But activists say there has been no groundswell of widespread public protest in Kenya, one of Africa’s biggest economies, that's been seen in other parts of the world.
Kenya’s police force for two decades has been ranked as the country’s most corrupt institution. It’s also the most deadly, according to human rights groups say.
Protest coordinator Gacheke Gachihi said social justice groups from 16 slums organized Tuesday's event to mark 30 years since opposition politicians protested to demand democratic reforms from the single-party autocratic regime at the time.
Gachihi said the police killings have targeted people in slums and people are demanding that their rights be respected.
“We are not going to stand for that anymore," activist Amelia Hopkins Philips said. “We are going to keep standing up and peacefully protesting until that message gets through.”