#EndSARS movement spreading in Houston; first-generation Nigerian Americans speak out about the violence

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Police officers stop and search a bus carrying passengers around Lekki toll gate in Lagos Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Resentment lingered with the smell of charred tires Friday as Nigeria's streets were relatively calm after days of protests over police abuses, while authorities gave little acknowledgement to reports of the military killing at least 12 peaceful demonstrators earlier this week. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

HOUSTON – More than 50 people have been killed, along with at least 18 security forces, in another deadly day in Nigeria.

The violence erupted during peaceful protests that were meant to bring to light rampant abuses at the hands of police. There have been marches and rallies in solidarity with the Nigerian people worldwide.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, several community leaders and people gathered Friday night at Houston’s city hall to remember the young lives lost during the peaceful protest in Nigeria.

Peter Uwalaka and Elizabeth Opara are members of the UIU chapter in Houston and are first-generation Nigerian Americans. They say the violence needs to stop.

“Nigerian citizens have been brutalized, harassed, raped, shot and extorted,” Uwalaka said.

For weeks the country has been rocked by violent protests over police brutality.

“It’s truly disheartening. I think that’s the only word that can capture my sentiments at this point,” Opara said.

The chaos started after a man was beaten and killed by members of the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad known as SARS.

“To see the slaughtering of your people, by people who look like you that’s horrible,” Uwalaka said.

Now, #endsars is trending on social media. People tired of the violence against peaceful protest and police brutality.

But Uwalaka says there is much more to it.

“Putting an end to corruption, putting an end to inequality and lack of education, lack of resources, lack of resources to go to school,” he said.

Demonstrators are demanding an end to senseless attacks and respect for human rights in all parts of the police force.

“It doesn’t seem fair at times and, to be honest, but I’m praying for their safety and praying for their well-being and ultimately praying for a better Nigeria,” Opara said.

On Saturday, the Houston UIU Chapter will have a protest march to bring awareness to the atrocities in Nigeria. The march begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Ojos Locos parking lot on 9501 Southwest Freeway in Houston.