Arrests and clashes as protesters challenge police in Nairobi

Drama ensued in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) on Tuesday, June 18, after protestors took the streets in defiance of police orders.

Police arrested several ‘Occupy parliament’ protesters amid a dispute over the legality of the mass action.

Teargas was deployed to disperse the demonstrators, with plainclothes officers also involved.

Plain-cloth police officers arrest an activist protesting along Parliament Rad on June 18, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Nairobi Region Police Commander Adamson Bungei declared the protests illegal, asserting that no group had obtained clearance for demonstrations within the city today.

However, Boniface Mwangi, a key organiser, claimed they had notified the police in advance.

"We informed the police on Saturday, marking multiple locations including Ambassador, National Archives, Nation Centre, Supreme Court, Skate Park, Taifa Road, and Kencom Stage as assembly points," said Mwangi.

"Harambee Avenue was designated as our preferred route."

Anti-riot police transported numerous protestors in their vehicles to various Nairobi police stations.

HAKI Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid is among those detained at Central Police Station.

Journalists have also been caught in the crossfire, with injuries reported during clashes between police and demonstrators.

Justus Macharia, a videographer from Standard Group, was briefly detained while covering the events, later released from a moving police vehicle.

Police officers patrol Parliament Road ahead of Finance Bill 2024 tabling in Parliament. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino voiced his support for the protests, criticising the police crackdown and demanding the release of those arrested.

"I condemn the mass arrest of peaceful protesters by the police," said Babu.

 "This excessive use of government power belongs to the past and is no longer acceptable. Those arrested must be released immediately," he added.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino (right) andStarehe MP Amos Mwago (left) address the media at Parliament on June 18, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The situation remains tense as authorities’ attempt to restore order amidst ongoing demonstrations in Nairobi’s CBD.