Liberia: Seventh-Day Adventist Students Victimized in MCSS Protest

Several students of the Seventh-Day Adventist School on the 12th Street got injured in the protest which they were not part of

Monrovia – In their quest to disperse the protesting Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) students from the streets, police’s harsh response of indiscriminately shooting their teargas, left several pupils of private schools near protesting students unconscious.

Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]

It wasn’t just the police’s action that left those students unconscious, stones that were flying from the protesters, too, contributed as the kids got injured and had to be rushed to the nearby SDA Cooper Hospital. 

Some students of J.J. Roberts United Methodist Church High School and the Seventh Day Adventist High School all near the William V.S. Tubman High School on the 12th Street in Sinkor, received injuries from the stones and the teargas.

The SDA Cooper Hospital also on the same street and just in proximity with the three schools was a scene of actions as several parents and school administrators rushed the kids who had fallen off and gotten injured. Most of the parents had rushed to get their kids from their schools as some had reportedly gone missing trying to flee from melee between the Tubman High students and police. 

According to one hospital staff, who asked not to be named, some of the students were treated for suffocation from the teargas, while others had wounds to be dressed.

Normal activities in the 12th Street area came to pause for several hours as residents, students and others ran helter-skelter as baton wielding police officers indiscriminately whipped students or anyone young persons who were on the street.

SD Cooper, SDA-owned hospital workers wheeling an unconscious students of the Mildred Taylor SDA school to emergency

This hospital staff disclosed that the students treated for minor burns and some of their colleagues “fainted” were being revived. 

“Some of them are critical but some might be released today because their cases are not very difficult.”

The protest on the 12th Street was as a result of Tubman High students and other MCSS student protesting in demand of their teachers’ three or four-month salaries owe by the government.

“If we cannot have teachers teaching us no other school will have normal classes because children of officials, who don’t want to pay our teachers to have them teach us are in these schools,” some of the protesting public school students shouted.

In response to the incident, several officials of government including Gender, Education and Information trooped to Tubman High to speak to the students and their leaders. 

Education Minister, Professor Ansu Sonii told students that the government has made payment of teachers’ salaries for the month of August and salary for the month of September is in the concluding stages.

In respond to the situation, Madam Leymah Gbowee, Noble Peace Laureate, on her   Facebook page said: “Force can never solve any problem. Government of Liberia, pay civil servants on time, cut out wasteful spending and unnecessary travels. Focus on your people’s needs and you won’t have to consistently chase protesters. A word to the #peoplespresident!”

Also speaking on the incident, the head of the MCSS, Superintendent Adolphus Benjamin Jacobs said, the salary process has been ongoing until September. Jacobs accused “some people, who are infusing different dynamism into it and it has become political in less than one hour.”

“People are fueling our students to do what they are doing,” he accused without providing any substantiation to back his assertions even when he was asked. 

Jacobs assured the students that they are going to begin taking their tests next week admitting that the tests were delayed because of teachers’ go-slow. 

“They have salary issue as a result of the budget harmonization. We are technicians; we will focus on ensuring that the students take their tests. Some people are disgruntled when it comes to salary and some people are here, who are not students. You cannot be throwing stones at the President’s convoy and say you are advocating for salary. The behavior of police to react on our students is unacceptable. When irresponsible officers try to knock on students head, that’s beyond repair.”