Police Manhandles Journalist for Streaming ‘Defiant’ Marketeers, in Redlight

Journalist Michael Roberts, Managing Editor of M-News Africa

On the afternoon of Monday, July 19, the Managing Editor of M-News Africa, an online magazine and 35 TV, Michael Roberts, was manhandled by officers riding a Police Support Unit (PSU) double cabin pickup in the commercial district of Red Light in Paynesville.

Journalist Roberts, as part of his journalistic duties, has been covering the joint effort of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), Ministry of Public Works and the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) to clean the huge piles of garbage in the Red Light and Goba Chop Market areas as well as other parts of Montserrado County under a campaign, dubbed “Leave No Dirt Behind”, in preparation for Liberia’s 174th Independence Day celebration. 

Under the “Leave No Dirt Behind” campaign, marketeers were asked to relocate to the 14 Goba Chop Market in the Omega Community to make way for infrastructural developments, including the completion of the 6.1km ELWA Junction to Coca Cola Factory road and beautification of the area. 

Police officers who Manhandled journalist

Speaking to newsmen, the M-News Africa Boss said he accompanied the Mayor of the City of Monrovia, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, to provide coverage of an assessment of adherence to the relocation order by marketeers. On their way back, Roberts left behind to get still and video footage of marketeers who insisted on selling in the areas they were asked to vacate. 

“I decided to stream the marketeers defiance live for the public and enforcers of the order to see what was happening in spite of the order. A man with a PCC branded black t-shirt wasted one of the sellers’ goods, while I was still streaming live. The lady got angry and decided to fight the officer. Passersby intervened but the lady was still incensed. She threw mud at a Police marked PSU pickup carrying officers to enforce the relocation order. The officers at the back of pickup jumped off the car and ran behind the lady to arrest her. Throughout these happenings, I was live streaming,” Journalist Roberts narrated. 

According to him, all of a sudden one of the officers ran to him angrily without asking and hit him with force and his Samsung Galaxy S9 plus phone dropped in a pool of muddy water. Despite announcing to the officers that he is a journalist and that he has been working with the relocation enforcement team, the officer called another colleague who helped to manhandle him and throw him in the police pick up already filled with fufu and other confiscated items. 

Roberts said they inflicted bodily pains on him while taking him to the Zone 9 Depot 2. Upon arrival, a senior officer of the Paynesville City Police under whose supervision the officers were operating ordered that Journalist Roberts be taken to the “Tortoise Base” Police Depot for detention, even though his identity was known. 

He explained that while he was being taken to the Zone 9 Depot 2 Police detention cell, he was rescued through the intervention of Mayor Jefferson Koijee, who had left earlier to attend a radio show. 

Journalist Roberts is presently seeking medical attention at a local clinic to treat the pains from the attack on his person. The journalist's Samsung Galaxy S9 plus phone is damaged as a result of the hit from the officer. To be continued.