Grammy-winning musician H.E.R. used her musical performance on “Saturday Night Live” to promote the #EndSARS movement, a global campaign against police brutality in Nigeria.
H.E.R., the singer-songwriter whose real name is Gabi Wilson, was surrounded on Saturday during the broadcast by a band wearing black t-shirts that read “#ENDSARS." The hashtag is part of a growing campaign to shut down the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) task force in Nigeria.
Thousands of Nigerians have protested in recent weeks against the police task force, blaming them for years of brutality, extortion and harassment. The demonstrations were sparked by a video circulating in early October alleging to show members of the SARS squad fatally shooting a man in the country’s Delta state.
Witnesses have said that soldiers shot at protesters who gathered in the Lekki district of Lagos, the African nation's largest city, where demonstrations have occurred almost every day in recent weeks. Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said one person died last week amid shooting, but characterized it as an isolated incident and did not say whether the victim was a protester.
Amnesty International has alleged that at least 12 protesters were killed by Nigerian forces during the protests, with hundreds more injured.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Friday at least 51 civilians and 18 security force members have died in the protests, blaming “hooliganism” for the violence, according to NBC Washington. The Nigerian Army has denied soldier involvement in shootings and protester deaths on Twitter.
Protests over the violence in Nigeria have spread into the U.S., with hundreds gathering outside city hall in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday to bring awareness to the country's protests against police brutality.
H.E.R. joined a number of celebrities who have spoken out and shared the #EndSARS campaign, including Beyoncé and Rihanna. Beyoncé released a statement through her philanthropic foundation BeyGOOD last week.
“I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria,” the statement said. “There has to be an end to SARS.”
Rihanna shared a statement on her personal social media accounts on Tuesday, telling Nigerian protesters that she was “so proud of your strength."
“I can’t bare to see this torture and brutalization that is continuing to affect nations across our planet,” Rihanna said. “It’s such a betrayal to the citizens, the very people put in place to protect are the ones we are most afraid of being murdered by!”
This is the second time this season that the “SNL” stage has been used to promote messages against police brutality. Meg Thee Stallion called out Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his handling of the Breonna Taylor case in the middle of performing her hit song “Savage” during her Oct. 3 performance.
The rapper played audio of activist Tamika Mallory calling Cameron “no different than the sellout negroes that sold our people into slavery.”