Violence ensued in the afternoon of Tuesday, June 29, 2022; when protesters clashed with Police on the first day of the Arise Ghana demonstration.
The incident led to injuries to Police officers and some protesters with the Police announcing arrests and moves to prosecute a group of people including organizers of the protest.
The main issue according to a GhanaWeb reporter was occasioned by the failure of demonstrators to abide by a route ordered a day prior by an Accra High Court.
GhanaWeb chronicles what we know so far about the before, during and in the aftermath of the incident
Police announce arrest on late Tuesday, June 28
Police announced the arrest of 29 people in connection with violent incidents that marred the June 28, 2022 Arise Ghana demonstration at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
According to a statement signed by Chief Superintendent Grace Ansah-Akrofi, Director of Public Affairs, the Service was also reviewing available footage with the view to making more arrests if need be.
“The Police have arrested 29 demonstrators for their participation in violent attacks on the Police and some members of the public including school children during the Arise Ghana demonstration in Accra,” the statement noted.
The statement further disclosed that leaders of the protest will be arrested and arraigned for the attacks and damage to property according to provisions under relevant laws.
12 Police officers injured
In an earlier statement, the Police said a dozen of its officers were injured in the clash and were receiving treatment at the Police Hospital.
“So far, 12 Police officers who sustained various degrees of injuries and were treated in the Police Mobile Hospital have been transferred to the Police Hospital for further treatment. Some police vehicles have also been damaged,” part of the statement issued by the Director of Public Affairs stated.
What leaders of the protest are saying?
In various interviews by some leading members of Arise Ghana, they accuse the Police and people in authority of premeditating the events that played out on Tuesday.
“We did not go there with sticks, we did not go there with stones, we went there with our voice to protest against the obnoxious e-levy which amounts to thievery. Our hands are clean, our conscience are clean, we believe in what we are doing,” National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress, Sammy Gyamfi stated at a press conference.
At the same event, Bernard Mornah also spoke about how some people believed to have been planted by the Police triggered the attacks that led to the police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and deploying water canons.
“Some ones of the police officials were wearing clothes like this (Arise Ghana red shirts), I didn’t know they were police officers. So when I said please go back so that these officers can go up with us they told me right in front of the police – this was not in camera, this was open – that they are police officers and they are protecting their bosses and pointed to Yohonu and those who were standing there. Police officers wearing Arise Ghana T-shirts,” he alleged.
Day Two of protests expected to continue
Sammy Gyamfi also confirmed that the final leg of the demonstration will take place today, June 29.
According to him, the Police does not have any problems with the timing and route of the second day.
“Fortunately, the Police has not opposed the second day of the demonstration, they’ve not gone to court relative to the second date of the demonstration, they’ve not sent any signal that they are unhappy with the route, and we don’t expect them to do so.
“We have not been served with any orders prohibiting us from demonstrating tomorrow and therefore I would use this medium to invite all supporters of Arise Ghana who attended today’s demonstration not to relent, give up or give-in but to Arise and meet us tomorrow at El Wak”.
He said the demonstration would start at 12pm from the El Wak Stadium in Accra and end at Parliament House.
Police account of how protest played out
The Police’s first statement on the incident outlined how the attacks on its officers played out and what measures they took to control the situation.
After the throwing of stones, the Police account stated that the demonstrators further regrouped and burnt tyres on the road around Circle and so they had no option but to use tear gas and water cannons to subdue the rioting and restore order.
“The demonstrators further regrouped and burnt tires on the road around Circle. The fire from the burning tires has since been put out by the police,” the statement read in part.
Meanwhile, the road has partially been cleared and the police urged road users to continue to bear with them and use alternative routes while they calm the situation.
GhanaWeb account of how the protest started
A GhanaWeb reporter on the ground observed that confusion over the choice of routes to be used by the protesters triggered the clash. Police barricaded a section of the road leading to Ring Way stretch ordering instead that the protesters go towards Farisco as per a court order.
For about 15 minutes, there was teargas being fired into the crowd after some elements in the crowd decided to push against the police barricade.
The altercation happened after organisers met with top officials of the police service to discuss the way forward following an obstruction when protestors tried moving from Obra Spot.
Police officials on the ground had suggested that organisers stick to the court’s assigned route for the demonstration, that is from Obra Spot through to the Independence Square.
But organisers who did not agree insisted that they will use the Ring Road Central road through Ako Adjei Interchange to the ministries.
After the meeting with the police, organisers returned to address the crowd about the situation but during this period, aggrieved protestors went against the police and tried pushing back the barricade.
Consequently, the police fired teargas to disperse the crowd which at this point was not only pushing against the police but pelting stones and other objects at them.
The police in their first social media post described as ‘shameful’, the pandemonium that characterized the demonstration.
“What a shame, we were there to protect you and ensure your safety, but you throw stones at us, injure and hurt us. This behaviour is unacceptable and must be condemned,” the Twitter post read.
Court Order and Stay of Execution
An Accra High Court set 12 July 2022 to rule on the stay of execution application filed by pressure group Arise Ghana.
The group filed the application on Monday, 27 June, 2022 following a ruling by the court stopping it from going ahead with its intended demonstration at night.
In a statement issued by the group following the ruling of the court on the approved time and route for the demonstration, as proposed by the Ghana Police Service, Arise Ghana noted: “The police has been duly served”.
Police had disagreed with their choice of routes and decision to start the protest at 3pm and end at 8 pm. Their decision to picket at the Jubilee House was also challenged.
The court ordered Arise Ghana to use the Farisco Traffic Light through to TUC headquarters and onward to the Independence Square.
Main issues underpinning the protest
Arise Ghana describes itself as a group comprising political party leaders, media practitioners, civil society players, creative arts, trades union among others determined to relentlessly champion the common cause of the Ghanaian people.
The group state that they also want to provide a voice for the voiceless and seek reforms that would bring about the needed change in the socio-economic, politico-social, and general wellbeing of the Ghanaian citizenry.
According to a recent statement, the historic two-day demonstration is primarily to protest persistent and astronomical hikes in fuel prices by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government that has imposed excruciating economic hardships on Ghanaians.
It said it was also to protest the imposition of the obnoxious E-Levy on the already-burdened Ghanaian people by the insensitive Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government and demand a full scale and bi-partisan parliamentary probe into COVID-19 expenditures.
Others are to protest the grabbing of State lands by officials of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government, particularly the de-classification of huge portions of the Achimota Forest reserve.
The rest are to protest the increased rate of police brutalities and state-sponsored killing of innocent Ghanaians, as well as the growing culture of human rights abuses under the watch of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and demand the total cancelation of the fraudulent “Agyapa” deal.