2020 has been a year of a year of wax and wane. Aside from the pandemic that has continued to ravage the globe, another bop that seems like geek to all can be traced down to frequent protests that took place in some countries, resulting in the loss of lives and deaths of some innocent citizens globally.
Essentially, protest is a powerful tool used in achieving a desired result relating to how people want to be treated.
The clarifying truth of seeing it all by yourself is that, on the streets, through all of the tensions and fear of a possibility of violence, there is something that has to be heard and there is a common goal to be achieved at the end of your cry, shout and long walk.
The truth is that we cannot cram all those who march on the streets in one category. While some are itching for conflicts, others are screaming raw obscenities into the air, and others are weeping, chanting, singing, speaking, praying, hoping, seeking and begging for a change in a society where change is rarely won after a hard fighting.
The main goal and the reason for the noise on the streets across the globe is the need for justice, equality, end to violence, injustice, desire for democratic change, opposition to racism and terrorism. The government in one way or the other gives people their words through manifestoes and campaign. Can we say the deaf ear the government always turn to the people’s cries is as a result of insufficient power and resources for the change people are agitating for?
In some countries across the globe in 2020, people’s pent-up anger eventually boiled over and exploded in violence, which threw some families in unexpected agony; lives of many citizens, especially youths, were cut short in their prime. Children also became orphans as the needless burgeoning violence claimed their parents’ lives.
Below are some of the countries things got to a head in 2020 and citizens resorted to protests, which often times degenerated to violence.
Angry citizens of the South American country took to the streets on May 25, 2020 to protest against the negative effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on the country’s economy. In Santiago, Chile, the pandemic lockdown had a massive effect on the informal workers. Neighbours of Bajos de Menas demand government aid to relieve the lack of food. Is that too much to ask for as citizens that work, earn little and still pay for tax? However, President Sebastine Pinera, on May 18, promised to oversee the distribution of 2.5 million baskets of food and cleaning materials supplied to homes to relieve the nation of the heat of the pandemic. A popular newspaper, The Santiago Times, reported that as of June 2, 227,842 baskets of foods had been distributed so far while the pandemic was still on the rise then.
Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. On May 29, 2020, citizens trooped out to protest against police brutality and also to weigh investigation against their president on speculations concerning endorsing weekly protest against the country’s top court due to the authorisation the court placed on investigating his interference in police appointments The protest against police brutality took place May 29, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, also in solidarity with US movement against police brutality.
Israelis took to the streets on June 2, 2020 to protest against police brutality across some major cities in the country, from Bethlehem to Haifa, after the killing of a 32-year-old teacher, Eyad Hallaq, who died after being shot by an Israeli police. Hallaq a Palestinian with an autism, was unarmed while standing in special-needs school in old city Jerusalem, where he worked when he was shot by two police officers, who perceived him to be a terrorist because he was wearing gloves. Dumbest excuse ever to waste an innocent man’s life by a so called trained security men, who were supposed to protect the people and its city.
In Toronto, Canada, people took to the streets chanting “Not another black life”, “Abolish the police”, and “No justice, no peace,” following the death of Regis Korchunski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Ukrainian and a black Canadian woman, who died after she fell from the balcony of her 24th- floor apartment in Toronto on May 27, 2020, while police were in her apartment. However, the people took over the streets on May 30,2020 to vent their anger and displeasure over the prejudice. They made it known the march was not only for Korchunski-Paquet, but about every victim murdered in cold blood and treated unjustly by the judicial system.
Officially, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China with its own executive, legislative and judicial powers passed on from the national government. The people started their protest in June 2019 over the proposed bill of deportation by Beijing that will try Hong Kong residents in mainland China. Hong Kong has its own legal system and the proposed bill would have an effect on their system. May 28, 2020 reignited the protest after Beijing said it would impose national security legislation on Hong Kong and the people of Hong Kong came out to clamour for a change, knowing the Beijing decision on the bill is a prodemocracy movement. According to MSN.com, a few weeks after China’s imposition, the national security law has revitalised the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to suppress dissent, punish activism and create fear within the city’s democracy movement.
Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia and the Filipinos raised the alarm over a new anti-terror bill the government proposed June 4, 2020. Some feared it would affect their freedom of speech and the act was really pushed by President Rudrigo Duerte but the people believed it would have a great effect on them and give the police more powers over them. Reuters in their report say the bill’s opponents’ fear is that it may be used to crush free speech and independent media/journalism.
United State of America’s protests can be tagged the ‘protest of the year’ because it cut across the globe because of the clip of the victim, George Floyd, a 46-year –old African-American, who died on May 25, 2020, after a white police man knelt on his neck for minutes in Minneapolis and he could not breath. March for justice on Floyd’s death took place in over 50 states in the country. Breanor Taylor, an African-American woman, was badly shot in her apartment in Louisville Kentucky on March 13, 2020 after two white plainclothes officers, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hakinson and Myles Cosgrove of Louisville Police department broke into her apartment as part of investigation into drug dealing operation. Her boyfriend was in the apartment with her and he fired a warning shot, which hit Mattingly’s leg and they fired 32 shots back and six bullets hit Breanor Taylor, which killed her. Celebrities in America took to their social media handles to mourn those African –American whose lives were cut short by white policemen by designing T-shirts with different descriptions such as, “SAY THEIR NAMES” and “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.
Nigeria, perceived to be the giant of Africa, is bedevilled with myriad of problems disturbing the peace of the country. In October 2020, bad governance, poor economy, police brutality, incessant killings, worsening insecurity assault and insurgency got to a head, hurting the nerves of Nigerians, who got on the streets to protest for a better country. The demand by the youths for the scrapping of the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad opened the floodgates for more demands on the government and the authorities. The #ENDSARS protests quickly spread throughout the country. It was later hijacked by suspected hoodlums, resulting in unprecedented nationwide violence, killings and wanton destruction of both public and private property.
The protests turned sour on the night of October 20, 2020, when soldiers deployed around the Lekki Tollgate, Lagos, epicentre of the #EndSARS protests opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing and maiming many of the protesting youths. The rest is now history.
From the protests that rocked countries across the globe in 2020, it is clear that the ordinary people worldwide will continue to desire good governance, end to police brutality and killings by non-state actors.
They will always want elected public officials in government to live up to their campaigns promises to them.
There is no doubt that people across the world desire change in the status quo and they want peaceful living, which is their fundamental human right. They should not be deprived of their convenience in any way by any government elected with their votes. They want government to protect their lives and property, provide social amenities, guarantee security, stabilise and regulate economy. For them, equality should not be defined by colour and justice should be without bias. Lastly, life should be made easier and affordable for an average citizen.
Reflecting on a year that none of us could have predicted, we wanted to end 2020 on a high. We’ve decided to pick out the things that have brought us joy and positivity in a year when we needed it most. We hope they make you smile as much as they did us.