The recent #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) protests that have been witnessed across the globe following the murder of George Floyd have ignited mixed reactions.
Questions have lingered on issues regarding systemic injustices and police brutality more so in Kenya.
In photos shared online by activist Boniface Mwangi, two sections of people were captured staging protests, one in solidarity with the BLM movement while the other addressed police brutality in Kenya that has so far taken many lives.
The comparison has sparked debates online with issues of racism and colour being introduced in the picture.
For instance, in the first category, the BLM protest was outside the US embassy in Kenya with protestors, both Americans and Kenyans showing up with pets and picnic chairs where officers watching over them without using any form of violence nor teargas.
However, the other category of protestors detailed Kenyans matching against police brutality and were teargassed and two of their members arrested.
There was a #BlackLivesMatter protest outside @USEmbassyKenya. Protesters even came with pets and picnic chairs.They were so confident they wouldn’t be touched. A few kilometres away, community activists protesting #PoliceBrutalityKenya were tear gassed and two of them arrested. pic.twitter.com/auhTCq0dsW
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) June 9, 2020
This ignited mixed reactions with a section of social media users accusing the police authorities of favouring the white people and unleashing violence on its citizens who are common Kenyans.
In a detailed report by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) last week, 15 people were reportedly killed by police and 31 others left with serious injuries as government measures aimed at containing the spread of the novel Coronavirus were implemented.
In a statement on Tuesday, IPOA said about 87 complaints which include deaths, shootings, harassment, assaults resulting to serious injuries, robbery, inhuman treatment and sexual assault were under investigations.
Further, IPOA launched an investigation into the latest incidents of police brutality that led to the death of six people.
The cases included the gunning down of a man in Mathare, Nairobi on June 1, 2020, shooting of a woman at a police roadblock in Emali on May 31, 2020, the fatal shooting of three family members in Kwale on May 30, 2020 as well as two fatalities within Katanin Village, Kabiyet Sub-County, Nandi County on May 29, 2020.
“Upon conclusion of the investigations and pursuant to Section 6(a) of the Act, the Authority will make recommendations, including prosecution if criminal culpability is established on the part of the police officers involved,” said IPOA.
The informal settlements have been the most affected by police brutality with a recent incident involving a homeless man who was shot dead in Mathare for defying curfew.
Activists across the world have staged demonstrations to protest unwarranted killings especially by police officers which are targetted on black people.
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:
That image is apt.
A local who made it to go out there majuu #AmeriKKKa told me, the social hierarchy is:
1. White woman
2. White man
4. Black woman
The Black man is at the bottom…
..below the dog. Seriously. pic.twitter.com/44V7n9BDdb
— rAjanItjJa (@rajanitjja) June 9, 2020
It is the "black lives in the US" that matters not the "Kenyan Lives". How many Kenyans have died in custody and nothing happens? . We should learn to deal with our own shit and not jumping into other affairs like puppets
— Da Rock (@DoRock8) June 10, 2020
Not all protesters are equal. The police knew they would be repercussions if they touched the glitterratti, but the hoi polloi had to be teargassed for behaving like they were drunk and disorderly.#policebrutalityke
— SyoKIVINDU (@SYOKIVINDU) June 9, 2020
It’s classism honey..here we are judged by our class.The moment police realize you aren’t as poor as you look ,they back down. They also associate whites as being higher class than black people(racism)
I can’t even look or be poor in my birth country!
— beerbong (@_hotensiah) June 10, 2020
There's still white privilege heavily embedded, in my own fucking country and I swear it slaps harder and so familiar, can't even tell the difference with the society in the US rynnao.
— Jogoo LA Shamba™ (@ObiStoned) June 9, 2020