At the entrance of the popular 37 lorry station in Accra, the JoyNews crew was interacting with a protestor venting his spleen over the sorry state of the economy.
About two minutes into the interaction with the news team, policemen approached the group from behind and shoved away the journalist, Maxwell Agbagba.
The security officials whisked the interviewee, Safani, who touted himself as a pan-Africanist.
Before his detention, he angrily condemned the police over the arrest of protestors earlier.
This is a perfect depiction of what ensued for the rest of the period on Day 1 of the #OccupyJulorBiHouse protests.
In the demonstration organized by Democracy Hub on September 21, a group of young activists demanding action on the economic crisis and corruption faced arrests by the police.
The arrests, along with the manner in which they were conducted, have sparked criticism, with concerns raised about the infringement on the constitutional right to protest and the use of excessive force by the police.
The peaceful demonstration aimed at urging the government to address economic issues and combat corruption ended abruptly when the police unlawfully arrested the protestors for alleged breaches of a court injunction.
The date, coinciding with Ghana’s first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday, witnessed what began on the streets culminating in arrests in about eight police stations across the capital.
Arrests and Journalists’ Plight
A young basketball player, unrelated to the protest, was mistakenly arrested while returning from a training session.
He was apprehended without cause due to his red T-shirt, as recounted by his distressed mother.
Journalists covering the event were also subjected to violence and harassment.
Notably, BBC reporter Thomas Naadi and his cameraman were arrested by the police during the demonstration.
Several journalists reported violent encounters with the police, one of which saw parts of Bridget Otoo’s dress ripped off.
In an interview with JoyNews, the TV host noted that the police were not only attacking protesters but journalists as well.
According to her, a reporter who was there covering events of the ongoing protest also got beaten by six police officers and her phone was seized as well.
Missing Phones and Police Violence
Multiple reports highlighted missing mobile phones, with protestors and journalists having their phones confiscated during the event.
Some phones were allegedly taken inside the police headquarters, leaving their whereabouts unknown.
The protests were aimed at voicing concerns about the economic crisis and corruption in the nation.
The police argued that the arrests were justified due to the protestors allegedly defying a court injunction, a claim disputed by the protestors.
The incident has raised important questions on social media about the protection of citizens’ rights and freedom of expression during protests.
Meanwhile, all the arrested persons have been released on bail. The police have also debunked claims that it had journalists in its custody.
Today, the group is back at the convergence point at the 37 lorry station to resume the 30-day process.
The youthful activists say they are prepared to risk it all if that is what it takes to see a more prosperous country and will not be intimidated by state security.