The Council of Patriots (COP), the pressure group known for organizing series of peaceful protests against the George Weah Administration, did not find it easy on November 16, 2020 as had been in the past when it intended to stage another protest again against concerns about the scarcity of the Liberian Dollar on the market, the mysterious deaths of some government officials in recent times and the failure of the government to address their concerns for which they protested on two different occasions.
As the COP members grouped themselves and moved towards the Ministry of Public Works on Lynch Street to take the UN Drive to head for Capitol Hill where they had in previous times assembled, the Liberia National Police officers who were all dressed in riot gear with austere and unfriendly faces wasted no time to fire tear gas at them (protesters), leaving everyone to run helter-skelter. Many protesters left behind their slappers and sandals as they ran to prevent arrest.
When the Daily Observer reached the scene, a man with bruises on his neck, feet and hands was lying on the road unconsciously, but eyewitnesses said he was brought from the Waterside end and laid right to the place the fracas with the protesters occurred. “They brought this man soon this morning and laid him here. He is a rogue beaten in Waterside and brought here; it is not the police,” some local residents on Lynch Street who expressed support to the police action against the protesters said.
Police officers were seen trooping and roaming from street to street in search of the protesters to stop them from gathering and perhaps arrest any of them that hands may lay on.
The Council of Patriots’ Secretary-General, Mulbah K. Yorgbor, Jr., in a telephone interview with the Daily Observer yesterday said the action of the police yesterday was a tactic to deprive Liberians of their right under the Constitution to a peaceful assembly.
According to Yorgbor, the action is an indication that the government has planned not to allow peaceful citizens to assemble any longer. Even though they were dispersed by the police and could not assemble as intended, Yorgbor said “The fact that attention was drawn to the protest it was a success” for them.
Despite the police force to disperse them, Yorgbor said they will design other means to carry out peaceful protests and will not be deterred by what happened on November 16, to keep silent and deny themselves of their own right to peaceful assembly as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution.
There was, however, no arrest in central Monrovia, but the COP Secretary said one person was reportedly arrested in the Barnersville area; something he said was not independently confirmed.
During the incident yesterday, many bystanders were heard mocking at the protesters and insulting them, calling on them to return and interact with the police. Yorgbor in reaction to comments that manifest the disdain of the people for protest said “It is not because the people are not in favor of protest, but because the government is creating the condition for them to be afraid of protesting peacefully.”
As the senatorial election draws nigh, some predict that there may be cheating in favor of the ruling party and such a situation provoke protest, but Yorgbor said doing that will be in the presence of Liberians and they will be denied their voices. As such, he said it will be left with the Liberian people to make the decision as to how to react to any electoral fraud that will deny them of their voices through the ballot box.