Freetown, Sierra Leone – September 11, 2023
Tensions escalated at Portee junction in the early hours of 9 a.m. yesterday, resulting in confrontations between local youths and law enforcement. The situation necessitated the deployment of tear gas to disperse the protesters, leading to the subsequent arrest of several suspects who were transported in a land cruiser vehicle.
The incident, which occurred on September 11th, sent ripples of unease through both the Portee and Rokupa communities. It was allegedly triggered by rumours circulating on social media, where unidentified individuals called for a protest and demonstration. The protesters’ demands included lowering the prices of goods and services or a change in government.
The unrest at Portee junction commenced when a youth from Antenna Street hurled a stone at the police and military personnel stationed at the junction. Fortunately, there were no reported casualties among the security forces.
On the previous night of September 10th, 2023, both the military and police had set up a checkpoint, conducting vehicle searches. Passengers in commercial and private vehicles were instructed to disembark for inspection.
During the riots, some protesters managed to evade the tear gas, seeking refuge in various residences. Unfortunately, the deployment of tear gas caused severe distress, particularly affecting children, youths, and women in the Portee community and adjacent areas along the seaside.
Madam Margret Yegbeh Koroma, a 65-year-old resident of the Congo Water Community, recounted her experience, stating that the patrol team, comprising both police and military personnel, had advised residents to return home if they had no business in the area. She clarified, “We did not encounter any threats or casualties. We were seated peacefully, and as far as I know, no one was arrested.”
The riots had a significant impact on local businesses, with shops, including the Portee market, temporarily closing their doors. Essential goods, especially commodities, remained off the shelves. Additionally, the security operations in the East of Freetown led to the thorough search of vehicles along the Bai Bureh road. Some residential windows, constructed with glass, were damaged when stones and tear gas canisters were thrown at them on Monday.
Two individuals, one from upper Portee and the other from lower Portee, were apprehended by the police and military personnel, accused of engaging in riotous conduct and throwing stones from a short distance. AJ/12/9/2023