Lamu, KENYA: Protests rocked Lamu town on Tuesday following an incident where two people were shot by police and scores arrested during a dawn clash with police.
The two people sustained gunshot wounds while 15 others were injured from the beatings they received from the police officers following the Tuesday dawn altercation.
At least 30 youth were also arrested by police.
During the dawn brawl, police officers who were on patrol in the town are said to have tried arresting the youth who had risen early to prepare for the day’s work at around 4am.
The youth are however said to have resisted arrest arguing that they had done nothing wrong after which an altercation immediately ensued in front of the Lamu House hotel.
The officers are said to have fired at least six gunshots into the air in their bid to disperse the now enraged youth.
Musa Shukri,a boat operator who was among the youth said trouble began when the officers began beating them even after they had explained that they were just readying their boats for the day.
The 30 young men were rounded up and arrested by police and taken to the station prompting the protests for their release amidst increased concerns of police brutality in the region.
Subsequently, the officers are said to have stormed into houses beating up women and children and they searched for the youth who have accosted them.
Consequently, residents of Lamu town have stormed the Lamu Police Station to demand the immediate and unconditional release of 30 youth arrested by police on Tuesday dawn Residents have also complained of increased police harassment especially when the officers conduct patrols at night in the town.
Speaking when he led protesters outside the Lamu Police station on Tuesday afternoon, Mkomani ward MCA Yahya Shee urged the Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet to intervene and have the continued incidents of police brutality on unarmed and innocent civilians investigated.
Yahya said it was inhumane for police to wake people in the wee hours of the morning and beat up innocent civilians for no apparent reason.
The protestors accused the town OCS of allegedly directing his officers to harass and mistreat people.
“We want the IG to come to Lamu and look into this issue before it gets worse.W3 want have people harass us day in and out as if we were foreigners. What happened today could have gotten people killed. We want the OCS out and we want those arrested released because they committed no offence,” said Shee.
The protestors asked for the transfer of all police bosses who had stayed long in the region saying they had become extremely comfortable and accustomed to not being efficient.
Francis Auma, a human rights activist with MUHURI condemned the incident and accused police of using unnecessary excessive force and demanded justice for those injured by police during the incident.
Auma also said MUHURI will be heading to court to sue the Lamu Police for the incident and many others reported to the organization.
“What has happened is police brutality of the highest order and we condemn the incident and perpetrators. As MUHURI, we shall be charging the Lamu police and ensure justice prevails for these and many other victims of similar treatment here. We are also demanding the unconditional release of all those arrested,” said Auma.
Save Lamu activist Mohamed Abubakar termed the incident as unfortunate and unwarranted.
He urged the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP Noordin Hajji to probe the incident and many other reports of police brutality in the county.
“We want the DPP to probe some of this police bosses who have become addicted to bribes and when they don’t get their way,they order people to be beaten and harassed. Some of these bosses have been here for so long they should be transferred,”said Abubakar.
In a seemingly coordinated plot, efforts to reach the County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri and Police commander Muchangi Kioi were futile as they did not pick calls or reply to texts.