By Kanyingi Kuria
The Police force arm of enforcing law and order is arguably one of the assets governments and their agencies take pride in. But the men and women in blue-for our Kenyan case, for instance, whose mandate is to serve and protect, are not always on the side of being praised when it comes to civilians.
In most countries the police are seen as enemies of the people whose duty is to whip, maim, torture, humiliate and sometimes kill in public. However this does not pass unnoticed and unranted over, especially on social media platforms and it gets even worse with protests that emanate from strong resentment towards the police and some of the not so humane alleged acts of untold pain they inflict on crime suspects.
Lately, social media has been ablaze with stories, videos and accounts of people who have been brutalized by the police. Usually people are somewhat used to police throwing a canister or two of tear gas to disperse unruly crowds during work strikes or school riots but when extreme force is meted out on an individual-it’s get provocative. But is this the trend and do we ever get to know why the said victims got caught up with the police in the first place and what measures are taken thereafter?
Mercy Cherono, a 21-year old, suspected gang member from the Rift valley region is the latest publicized case of police brutality. A viral video showing the young girl being dragged by a rope tied to a moving motorbike lit up social media especially Twitter. The incident went on to become a story that hit both regional and international news headlines. As at now the OCS alongside two other officers have since been arrested awaiting charges in what is likely to unfold as a heated court case after FIDA-Kenya announced their legal representation towards Cherono.
This incident comes barely a fortnight after George Floyd, an American citizen was arrested and unfortunately passed on in the hands of police after he had his neck pressurized while he lay on the ground. The 46-year old victim was being arrested after he was suspected of using a fake 20-dollar currency in a store.
The case sparked high voltage riots and demonstrations in his residential town as well as other areas in the United States. By the virtue of being him a black American at a time when police brutality against the blacks has been at an all-time strong condemnation, people protested till the officers responsible were fired, arrested and the main perpetrator in that case even arraigned in court.
The afore-mentioned cases are just two out possibly a million other cases that either go unreported or even if reported the perpetrators roam free as their victims suffer injuries and trauma for years or at worst just die.
Reactions toward police brutality always seem to escalate since the act is a civil rights violation. However, there are lots of grey areas and at worst being the victim’s word against that of the police which in most cases, the latter wins.
Some of the countries reported to have the highest number of reported cases to the media are in Africa are Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Burkina Faso, Mali and Lesotho.
As time goes by, it is unfortunate that the trend of police harassing civilians either verbally or physically or even using extreme force when making legally warranted arrests is on the rise. While some of the victims are actually guilty as charged, a considerable number is usually innocent and have no idea of what they are being charged with.