December 16, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
A cross-section of citizens in the Freetown municipality have condemned the attitude of the Sierra Leone Police Force in fighting crime and gangs. This condemnation came following the incident on Saturday, 12 December at the National Stadium during the album launch of popular hip-hop star, Amara Dennis Turay aka Kao Denero.
The event had to be abandoned after the police reportedly fired teargas canisters into the crowd, following a misunderstanding between youths who wanted to be closer to the action on the pitch and riot police.
According to an eyewitness, the intervention of the police caused injuries to lots of peaceful people who had gone to see the artist perform live songs of his new album. “Now or Never” and other old tracks. They also blame the police for the loss of properties and the disruption of the show.
Mohamed Kargbo, a fan of Kao Denero, said everything was quiet and perfect when suddenly the police began to fire teargas into the stands.
“My brother, before we entered the National Stadium, proper search was conducted on us at the main gate and the entrance to the main bowl of the stadium; they even took off our footwear searching for weapons or any sharp objects. People said there was a fight outside the stadium but there was nothing like that at the main blow of the stadium. We were inside enjoying the show until the police started shooting teargas all over the place and it affected all the people that were at the show,” explained Kargbo.
Mariama Sallay Koroma, who was also at the show, described the behaviour of the police as ‘unprofessional’, adding that the latter are supposed to protect lives and properties but what they did at the night of the show clearly showed that “they do not understand their brief”.
She narrated that while Koa Denero was on stage performing some of his tracks, fans who were up the stands started streaming down towards the stage, and that it was at this time the police started shooting teargas canisters in the direction of fans.
“Kao Denero, who was on the stage launching his album, called on the police to let the fans walk further to the stage, but the police refused and continued shooting teargas onto the stage,” she alleged.
The show was eventually called off as everyone went home.
Meanwhile, there were reported skirmishes between rival cliques who support Kao Denero and a rival musician along the streets in the early hours of Sunday, 12 December.
The police say they made some arrests and that those arrested would be charged to court this week.