Mr. Police Spokesman, Your Press Confab of Showmanship Does Not Help
YESTERDAY, OCTOBER 17, the spokesman of the Liberia National Police (LNP) attempted to provide what he thinks was clarity on Tuesday, October 15 Monrovia Consolidated School System’s student peaceful protest, which later degenerated into chaotic scenes around Central Monrovia.
SPOKESMAN MOSES CARTER, who tried to be very forceful to drive home his points, didn’t only make the LNP more uglier in the eye of the public but also did attempt to make all the officers of the police infallible.
CARTER LAVISHED praises on the LNP under the leadership of Inspector General Patrick T. Sudue for being “professional in the discharge of duties” especially on Tuesday, October 15 when the students protested.
ON THAT TUESDAY, the students, in solidarity with their teachers, who had gone three or four months without their salaries, got into the streets demanding answers from the government. These public schools’ students marched from their campuses to the Capitol and onward to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanding answers.
THEIR ACTION was very civil from the beginning of the protest before things went haywire after the police tried to disperse them from the streets.
IT’S NOT EXACTLY clear what really sparked a peaceful demonstration to turn chaotic. But at some point, they had blocked President George Manneh Weah’s convoy around the Monrovia City Hall just a stone’s throw from his Foreign Ministry’s Office.
THE MCSS STUDENTS demanded to see their President and have him hear their concerns. The students also threatened to disrupt private schools if the government did not address their concerns.
OF COURSE, the President didn’t get off his vehicle instead his security managed to open the corridor for him to drive on. This was probably the turning point.
THE STUDENTS’ ACTION reminiscence another protest on July 9, 2015. Around the same place, the same MCSS students, again in solidarity with their teachers, blocked former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s convoy. The former President had just left the Monrovia City Hall where she had attended a program and was on her way back to her Foreign Ministry Offices when the students blocked her convoy.
IT WOULD HAVE been chaotic that day but for the maturity and wisdom of the former President everything went well.
MADAM SIRLEAF got off her vehicle and decided to walk along with the students and her bodyguards. In front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she stood and listened to their leader, Mohammed Donzo, who succinctly told the President what had caused them to get in the streets demanding some answers.
FOLLOWING THAT interactions with the President, the students left the streets and their situation was resolved.
ON TUESDAY, we don’t know what piece of advice President Weah’s security gave him. But he stayed in his car and the students were pushed back.
FEW MINUTES LATER, things went haywire; both private and public schools in the vicinity became engulfed in the running battles and stones began to fly from the protesting students toward the police. The MCSS students even began throwing stones at students of private schools, too.
THE POLICE TRYING to bring things under control made some serious mistakes, which their Spokesman failed to admit but went on praising them in his Thursday press conference.
CARTER SAID, “We want to make it emphatically clear that as a result of LNP’s intervention in Tuesday’s incident involving MCSS students, who had turnout to demand the Government of Liberia to pay their teachers’ salaries, no student from our records available to us as police, sustained any bodily injury as a result of police action.
“WHAT WE WANT to make it very clear to you is that, students who sustained bodily injuries were as a result of stones exchange executed by aggrieved students of the MCSS, who visited one campus to another exchanging stones with students of private schools.”
CARTER THIS IS boldface lie from you. We have pictorial and other proofs that show that the LNP officers used a disproportionate force on the students and that force led to uncomfortable situations for some of the students, including some who had no say in the protest actions.
YOU BOAST OF the LNP being in charge of security, granted. But being in charge of security doesn’t give you the power to execute such power uncompromisingly to the extent were elementary pupils were harmed from teargas shot indiscriminately by the officers who tried to bring the situation under control.
IT COULD BE TRUE that some of the photos and videos that are circulating on Facebook and other social media platforms, including Twitter, and Instagram are not the true representations of what happened on that Tuesday. But what is truer is that there are more videos and photographs of the Tuesday incident that show the heavy handedness of the police.
IF YOU DID DO a good job, why is the LNP coming under so many condemnations because of their intervention in the Tuesday incident?
MR. SPOKESMAN, you didn’t do a good job in your press conference. We think you are not helping the police for harming the force. Inspector-General Patrick Sudue needs to set up an internal enquiry to find out how did the pupils of the SDA-run Mildred Taylor school on the 12th Street come down suffering from suffocation complication and they had to be rushed to the SD Cooper Hospital.
CARTER THE documentary pieces of evidence are too many to just ignore and try to give yourselves a pat on the back that is not deserved.