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How the protests in Nigeria could affect Idahoans

Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 20:19:25-04

MAGIC VALLEY — For the past couple of weeks, protestors have taken to Nigeria's streets to call an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Nigeria's police agency. As tensions continue to rise, a history professor at the College of Southern Idaho says it's important for Idahoans to pay attention to what's going on.

"The first thing I've been thinking of is the number of refugees that we have here specifically in the Magic Valley but Idaho in general. Those refugees, some of them are coming from these places. We have students from Nigeria here at CSI and across several campuses here in Idaho," Justin Vipperman, a History professor at the College of Southern Idaho, said.

Protests escalated after a video surfaced, showing SARS officers killing an unarmed man. The police agency then denied the incident and arrested the person who recorded the video.

"Which then you have demonstrators coming out and demonstrating against police brutality, which we should all know about because that's been going on here in the United States," Vipperman said.

Since 2000, 17 refugees from Nigeria have resettled in the state of Idaho, but according to the Idaho Office of Refugees, most of Idaho's Nigerian immigrants have come to Idaho through other avenues.

"I think that's a big thing we need to understand that these students may have family there, and that is a big piece. But also more broadly, the movement, the police brutality movement is something that we need to understand more fully," Vipperman said.

And he says the protests happening in Nigeria mirror those that have been happening throughout the United States.

"It's not only happening here, but it's happening globally. It's happening across the United States. It's happening now in Nigeria, and it's happening in other places and so trying to find that connection and how we fit in that spectrum is what we all should be thinking of," Vipperman said.