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Nigerian police profile US policeman as criminal for wearing braids

By Dennis Erezi
27 December 2019   |   10:43 am
A Nigerian working with the police in Washington DC United States Akintayo Akintunde has joined the league of young people that are profiled as suspected criminals based on their looks by the Nigerian police. Akintunde, who has a braided hair, is attached to the Washington, District of Columbia police. He narrated how the Nigeria police…

A Nigerian working with the police in Washington DC United States Akintayo Akintunde has joined the league of young people that are profiled as suspected criminals based on their looks by the Nigerian police.

Akintunde, who has a braided hair, is attached to the Washington, District of Columbia police. He narrated how the Nigeria police profiled him as a suspected criminal four days after he arrived in the country.

“4 days in Nigeria & I have already been profiled as a criminal by the Nigeria police force,” Akintunde tweeted. “I work for the Washington DC as a police officer and I have braids.”

Young men who braid hair and wear tattoo are regularly profiled by the Nigerian police. It could have been strange to the US police officer, whose policing career also includes civil and social engagements with US citizens.

Akintunde, a graduate of University of Baltimore, joined the DC police department in May 2016. He was among the officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) that featured in its new web series, “Beyond the Badge,” shown on multiple DC Police social media platforms in October 2018.

The purpose of the series, the Metropolitan Police said, is to capture police officers with members of the community, showcasing different passions, talents, hobbies and interests outside of their work-life.

Consequently, the Metropolitan Police said the series is meant to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community to simultaneously show the humanistic qualities of MPD officers.

But for the Nigeria police, Akintunde said, “They profile people (as criminals )based on looks. Enough of the profiling,” he said.

In September 2019, Nigerians launched the #StopRobbingUs campaign t0 protests the unlawful arrest, attack, kidnap and forcible withdrawal of funds from young people with laptops or any electronic gadget by officers of the Nigerian police.

The campaigners said they were deploying all legal options to stop Nigeria police officers from harassing young persons with computer gadgets because they have tattoos, dreadlocked hair and other physical appearance.

As at November, the organisers said the campaign had raised about $45,000 from Nigeria’s tech sector to support public awareness and initiate a legal proceeding against the police.

The campaign also proposed dismissal and other internal disciplinary measures against police officers victimising and labelling citizens criminals base on their looks.