How has policing unfolded within the COVID-19 pandemic? What response has it provoked?

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June 11, 2020

Media coverage from hard-hit cities suggests there is a disproportionate number of arrests and citations related to enforcement of social distancing among racial minorities.

Also, police response seems to have followed very different patterns in the case of "re-open" protests and anti-police brutality protests.

Priyanka deSouza's picture
June 10, 2020

Nanjala Nyabola, a Kenyan journalist and author tweeted: 'There were two anti-police brutality protests in Nairobi today. The one featuring white people made it's way to the US embassy undisturbed. The one led by working class and poor folks ended in teargas and arbitrary arrests.'

On March 25, 2020 the Kenyan government imposed a curfew to limit movement in Nairobi to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. In the ensuing months, the police 'enforced' the curfew by killing as many people as COVID-19 in Nairobi. The police have had a long and bloody history in Nairobi. Missing Voices Kenya have documented the shocking number of people who have lots their lives to police brutality over the years. Although groups in poor neighbourhoods such as Mathare have long held protests against police violence, the recent murder of George Floyd in the US has lent momentum to this movement. Thus, these groups took to the street to walk to the apartment where Yasin Moyo, a 13 year old playing on his balcony was killed by police, to demand that Black lives mattered- everywhere. The protests ended in the police tear gassing protestors.

A separate group comprising of many white protestors marched to the US Embassy to protest extrajudicial killings in the US and Kenya. From reports I have been reading about the protests on Twitter, these groups were left unharmed by the police. It is thus important that we recognize the the situatedness of protests agains police violence in different parts of the world, and the specific histories and contexts that shape each one of them, while recognizing their common themes.