Rep. Acarous Gray Should Be Blamed for Instigating UL Violence
ON MONDAY, MARCH 13, Normal learning activities at the state-run University of Liberia were disrupted following violent scuffles between the vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP) of the University and a group of supporters of Rep. Acarous Moses Gray, Representative of District #8, Montserrado County.
REP. GRAY, ACCOMPANIED by a huge group of supporters, stormed the Capitol Hill Campus of the University of Liberia in a challenge to SUP who had chased an official of the government and a member of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Aloysius Howe v out of the campus a week earlier.
SUP, IN JUSTIFICATION of its action, said it was in line with its resolve to make the grounds of the University of Liberia a no-go zone for those it called state looters.
IMMEDIATELY, GRAY, A former student of the UL, a former member of the UL Board of Trustees, current Chairman of the Committee on Executive at the House of Representatives, and a ranking member of the CDC took to his Facebook page, and in a challenge to SUP, announced that he will visit the campus on Monday to have lunch with students of the university.
DESPITE A PLETHORA OF calls on Rep. Gray to back off his plan to avoid any confrontation with the students that could have an adverse impact, he refused to listen. His action prompted Rep. Yekeh Y. Kolubah of District #10, Montserrado County, and a staunch critic of President George Weah and the CDC regime to announce his visit as well. Rep. Kolubah said so long as his colleague visits the campus, he will also do the same.
GRAY’S ARRIVAL AT the UL was marred by violent altercations between his group and SUP, injuring several people.
THOUGH THE DISTRICT #8 lawmaker initially stated his planned visit was to have lunch with students on the campus, there was no lunch. The university campus was ransacked. The administration, which had earlier called on students and faculty to attend classes despite signs of violence in the buildup to Monday, was forced to cancel classes in the midst of the violence. Students of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law were caught up in the melee while sitting their exams on campus.
PROPERTIES OF THE University and office equipment were damaged or stolen. Journalists were caught up in the violence too. One of our reporters was badly beaten up and his gadgets including mobile phones were damaged. Other reporters from our sister institutions including OK FM suffered a similar fate.
THERE ARE VIDEOS making rounds on social media of a man being stripped naked, beaten, stoned, and covered in blood.
IN THE WAKE OF the incident, officials of SUP announced that several of their members were wounded by both the LNP and supporters of Rep. Gray, were arrested, and are currently in detention with their injuries.
WE At K-NEWS are of the opinion that the action on Monday was a repeat of the infamous July 26, 2022, Independence Day violence meted against members of SUP who are assembled in front of the United States Embassy up Snipper Hill, Benson Street in Monrovia for a sit-in action.
TO WALK DOWN memory lane, on Tuesday, July 26, SUP, Africa’s oldest student movement, assembled at the United States Embassy, one of the designated spots of its much-heralded “Fix the Country” campaign aimed at denouncing “bad governance” and its vices including corruption, poverty and insecurity under the Weah-led administration.
THE CAMPAIGN, ACCORDING to SUP, was also intended to dissuade citizens from joining the Government in celebrating Liberia’s 175th Independence.
WHILE THE OFFICIAL ceremony was being held at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on Ashmun Street, SUP’s assembly soon turned sour at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy when a pro-government group, the CDC- Council of Patriots led by its leader Ben Tokpah, stormed the protest ground and attacked SUP members. While many SUP members fled, some were caught by the pro-government group.
DISTURBING FOOTAGES FROM the scene showed a member of SUP, identified as Christopher Walter Sisulu Sivili being beaten and tortured. In what appeared to be a disturbing reminiscence of the brutal civil war, the student was surrounded by a group of CDC loyalists who pounded him with heavy blows and slaps. They stripped him naked as blood oozed from his nose and mouth. Some rained curses on him, and while torturing him, said he and his colleagues were being ungrateful to President Weah, who, among other things, has offered them free tuition.
SUP MEMBERS ACCUSED officials of the ruling CDC and the police of a calculated plot to use violence against them as a way to stop them from speaking against the ills of the Weah-led government.
THE POLICE DENIED the claim and later announced that those officers who were on the scene were placed under investigation, but up to this date, it has not informed the public about the outcome of said investigation.
IT TOOK ALMOST a week for the Government and the CDC, led by President Weah himself to denounce and distance themselves from the violence meted out against SUP on July 26, 2023.
WE BELIEVE THAT Rep. Gray’s action yesterday sent a message that he is one of those people SUP accused of being within the ruling establishment that is so intolerant and is willing to go the extra mile to clamp down on their activism for ‘social justice and economic for all Liberians.’
WHILE WE, AT K-NEWS, are not supporters of SUP and do not in any way believe in violence, are of the opinion that Rep. Gray of all people should have known better than violence cannot be used to solve violence.
THIS IS BECAUSE, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, it will be like ‘adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.’ In order words, adding gasoline to the fire.
LIBERIA HAS TRAVELLED down a rocky road and experienced the bitter pills of violence: 14 years of senseless civil war marred by some of the worst atrocities in human history including the loss of 250,000 precious lives.
THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS of violence come in all forms: from mental and physical injuries to loss of lives and properties. And from a macroeconomic point of view, violence reduces foreign and domestic investment as well as domestic savings, thus hindering prospects for long-term growth.
THIS IS WHY any leader who professes to love Liberia should always choose peace over violence. And any leader who professes to believe in peace should match his or her words with deeds.
THEREFORE, WE AT K-NEWS, call on President George Manneh Weah to condemn the violence at the University of Liberia and instruct the Ministry of Justice to launch an impartial investigation that will lead to the prosecution of all those that instigated it, including his party’s stalwart, Rep. Gray.