The Police, the Teargas, and the Mosque

My previous post was actually supposed to be about this but then I got carried away by Senegalese youth.

Basically, a police officer threw tear gas into a mosque downtown Dakar, close to the Place de l’Independence last Friday, the 17th.

He was a moron.

As the story goes, protesters were throwing things at police officers, and police were retaliating with rubber bullets and the occasional tear gas. Now, I don’t know exactly what happened to lead up to this particular event, but it was claimed that some protesters were throwing things at the police and hiding in and around the mosque, and the next thing I saw (I only saw the footage from this point on) was a police officer, standing just across the street from the mosque beside his truck, pick up a tear gas and hurl it INSIDE the mosque, sending people furiously scurrying about.

Did I mention this police officer was a moron?

So needless to say, people are pissed off, especially the Tidjane Brotherhood, as it was their mosque that was defamed.

This post is actually supposed to be in defense of the policemen during these times at Dakar so we shall exclude the above-mentioned moron from the rest of this entry.

On Sunday, when I was watching tv at a friend’s place (before I left and got into an accident, lol), the repeatedly shown footage was of a group of policemen who, visibly outnumbered, kept backing up as a crowd of protesters with stones and anything ‘hurlable’ advanced on them. Another was a footage of a group of about seven policemen who were shielding themselves, throwing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets at an advancing crowd much larger than them. They even showed one of the officers trying to shoot the rubber gun and I almost died of laughter – just the way he held the thing (or tried to hold it) was enough to cause fits! And he was a typical Senegalese man – as skinny as they come.

All that lead me to this question, is it by FORCE? Pardon the pun!

If the President or Minister or whomever tells me to take six other men to go control a crowd of two hundred young Senegalese (largely men) in some neighbourhood, I will look at  him and ask, “U dey craze (Are you crazy) ?!” If he insists, I’ll say, “ok, no problem.” I’ll get there and hit up the nearest bakery with my men to buy sandwiches and watch the action.

If people want to protest, let them protest! Why do I have to try to stop them and die? Afterall, it’s not me they’re mad at!

But what happens is that these men go and put themselves in front of a crowd of hundreds, trying to stop them from advancing down some street (and I’m not talking about the ones guarding downtown Dakar – those ones have reinforcements-it’s the ones that are sent to ‘cover’ the neighbourhoods in and around the city that suffer the most). They get scared (understandably), start shooting their rubber guns (sometimes randomly, accidentally injuring and killing people) and make other fatal mistakes.  Another footage I saw was of a police man who caught a protester and started beating him hard on the head with his baton. On the head! With the duration and force of the beating, that guy will definitely suffer some head injuries in the future – he already looked discombobulated as they put him in their car to be carried away.

So many of the deaths could have been prevented, and while I’m not saying all the police are innocent in all these (there are fools like the moron above), it is certainly a tough job out there for them!


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