Kenyan government officials are rushing to condemn the apparent brutality of police who attempted to disperse a protest of primary school children using tear gas, snarling dogs and clubs.
The children of Langa-ta Road Primary School were protesting the “playground grabbing” by a developer who claimed he owned the school property. That claim is now under investigation.
Wearing their green sweaters and school uniforms, the youngsters could be seen in videos posted online taking down the tall fence that blocked the play area. Some carried signs that read #OccupyPlayGround.
The school has approximately 1,000 students between the ages of 3 and 14, and is run by the Nairobi City Council.
According to local media, a group called Airport View Housing Ltd. says it has legally acquired the land and plans to build a parking lot that will be used by guests at an adjoining hotel. The City Council, however, says the playground is public land. It has not commented on the legal status of the apparent sale.
The Law Society of Kenya said it had named a team of 11 lawyers who will work with the director of public prosecution to charge the officers who tear gassed the pupils. Kenyans took to social media to criticize the police and mobilize support for the children. Earlier this week, more than 1,000 tweets had been shared and a hundred more were on Facebook under the hashtag #OccupyPlayGround.
“Last time I heard of children being gassed, hospitalized and tethered by dogs was apartheid South Africa,” @gitweeta wrote on Twitter.