Just as Liberians from all of walks of life, including government officials, foreign dignitaries, business partners and students converged Monday at the Capitol to listen to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Annual Message or ‘state of the nation address’ some visually impaired citizens also came up; not so much for their interest in the message, but to find an opportunity to meet the President and explain their plight.
However, their expectation suddenly turned into a nightmare as officers of the Liberia National Police or LNP brutally stopped the blind people, beating some and them away.
Officers of the Police Support Unit or PSU were seen hitting the blind people, including children leading them to leave the front view of the path the President was using to enter the Capitol to address the nation.
“Stop! Leave me alone! Stop hitting on us! We want the President to see our condition and say something about us in her message; not every blind person you see comes to beg for money; we need better life and living condition. We will not leave from here till the President passes by us; that’s the same thing the police did the last time we went to the President’s house for some support,” one of them cried out.
A spokesperson for the group identified as Tom Cooper, who spoke to this paper, described the action of the police as an abuse.
Mr. Cooper however reiterated that their mission to the Capitol on Monday was not to beg for money but for the Liberia leader, government officials, international partners and their direct representatives (lawmakers) to see their plight and do something for them and their children to have a better tomorrow.
He narrated that they had protested at the Capitol time and again for scholarship for their children but the appeal had been ignored by their representatives.
“We are tired of protesting at this Capitol Building for support; my son, we had cried in front of this building time without number, but all they do is to call police people to come and beat us. The police that suppose to protect us, are always in the continue habit of abusing our right and no nobody can take action in [our] favor,” Cooper lamented.
He however vowed that as visually impaired people, they will not stop fighting for their right until they and their children can get equal justice and better living condition.
But when the police officers involved in the brutality were contacted for comment, they declined to speak on grounds that they were just doing their job.
By Ben P. Wesee