Police Account Challenged Over MCSS Students’ Protest 

Police Account Challenged Over MCSS Students’ Protest 

The Liberia National Police(LNP), through its spokesman, Mr. H. Moses Carter, has providing what has been described as a cruel and conflicting account of the police’s action against students in a violent protest on Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

Addressing a news conference held at the Headquarters of the LNP in Monrovia on Thursday, October 17, 2019, Carter came in serious opposition with reports that some students of the Monrovia Consolidated School System(MCSS) were severely flogged by riot police officers during the protest.

Carter’s defense came on the heels of varying media reports and information circulating in some quarters of the Liberian society that riot police officers predominantly of the Police Support Unit (PSU) manhandled several students of the MCSS during the violent protest that took place on Capitol Hill, Monrovia.

While there were several instances in which police used excessive force against young students of the MCSS, Carter only made reference to a specific video, which according to him, was far dated back to 2011during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

“This news is fake and far away from reality. The video in was 2011 when LNP officers clashed with students in demand of salary payment of teachers and that happened at the G.W. Gibson High School. If you watch the video that circulating on social media, you will evensee the old logo of Cellcom, I mean when Orange was called Cellcom by then,” said the police spokesman.

“These are information from individuals who are bent on denigrating the image of the LNP and Inspector General Patrick Sudue. This is a sense of damaging the image of this institution. We want to make this emphatically clear that no students sustained bodily injuries. Those students who sustained injuries were those students who visited various private schools’ campuses and engaged in the throwing of stones and met counter reactions,” Carter clarified.

However, contrary to his counter reaction, police were vividly seen chasing and severely beating on some young students and in the process wounding some of them.

As followed by the Independent Authoritative Heritage Newspaper and other media outlets, a student was severely tortured just outside the gate of the state-run University of Liberia (UL) in Monrovia.

The student, who identity could not be verified due to severity of his bodily pain, was helped by some students of the UL, some of his schoolmates and passersby into the main compound of the UL.

Police were also spraying pepper spray and firing teargas at protesting students.

It can be recalled that on Tuesday of this week, protesting students of the

(MCSS) and riot police of the Liberia National Police (LNP) clashed in a street battle.

The protesting MCSS students said their action was aimed at drawing the attention of the national government, particularly President George Manneh Weah concerning their teachers’ plight.

The aggrieved students complained that the government’s failure to pay their teachers three months’ salary arrears has gravely affected their learning process as many of their teachers have abandoned the classrooms.

The aggrieved MCSS students, who marched from their 12th Street, Sinkor Headquarters to the Capitol Hill, were heard chanting slogans such as “You can pay Zogos but you can’t pay our teachers,” in reference to President Weah’s gesture towards street thugs commonly called “zogos” on the heel of Liberia’s 174th Independence Day celebration.

According to one of the protesting students, they took to the streets in a peaceful manner and not to cause problem rather to draw the attention of national government to their plight which they demand urgent solution.

“We have our right to learn and such right should not be hindered for any reasons,” said another student from the William VS. Tubman High School.

Tension later brewed between the protesting students and the riot police officers, predominantly officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) and Emergency Response Unit (ERU) when the police tried to control the students’ movements.

The students, in mass numbers from different public schools across Monrovia, stormed the Capitol Hill to express their grievances to President Weah over government’s failure to settle the three-month salary arrears of their teachers.

As the students tried to make their way closer to the main grounds of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs- the temporary home of the Liberian presidency, the riot police in return, countered their (students) quest by pushing them deeper towards the state-run University of Liberia (UL).

Accordingly, this caused the students to go amok and began to throw stones at the riot police and some officials of government, including Education Minister Prof. AnsuSonii, who had gone at the scene to speak to the students.

Police again in return angrily reacted by using pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the violently protesting students of the MCSS.

The agitating students not satisfied with the manner and form in which they were treated extended their protest action to some private schools in central Monrovia and disrupted  normal academic activities through the throwing of stones and the breaking into the facilities of some private schools all in a bid to ensure that they plight is addressed.

"If  we do not go to school, all private school students will not go to school as well,” they threatened in an angry mood.

The blocking of traffic as well as the free movement of others were violated upon by the students as some of them were seen lying flat on the ground just to send out a signal to their leaders on how crucial their issues are to them.

Meanwhile, several students sustained major and minor injuries during the protest as police chased them into various corners on Capitol Hill, especially in the compound of the UL.

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