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Shame for cheering police brutality

Dennis Itumbi HSC is the Senior Director of Innovation, Digital and Diaspora Communication in the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya. That is not just a big, fat title. It is a huge public responsibility.

Yet Itumbi can be flippant and heedless to the point of disgracing the high office he holds.

His tweet last week following attacks on journalists by police officers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport must be condemned unreservedly. He ranted:

“Kenyan police have done well. We cannot have such scenes in an international airport anywhere in the world. Journalism is not an absolute right. If a police order is lawfully given, you leave and if you believe it was wrong you challenge it in court. You cannot openly challenge a police order on live TV. On that I must say police did well. You will never see such stuff in other airports. It took a bit long but great decision.”

This is not just callous. The absurd impression Itumbi creates here is that journalists caused the chaotic scenes at the airport during the return of Miguna Miguna. That is a lie.

It was also a great week for Itumbi to lecture journalists about challenging police orders in courts of law, etcetera. Apparently, police shouldn’t bother arresting reporters and taking them to court if they think they have broken the law. They should instead clobber them.

The truth is that the journalists covering the Miguna Miguna saga at JKIA did none of the things Itumbi accused them of. Here is an account of what happened as relayed by one journalist:

“Just to be clear, we journalists did not resist when asked to leave. Those guys said, “Everybody leave!” then charged at us. We ran from them. The cop who hit me chased me all the way to the parking lot, away from his colleagues. I had my back to him as I ran when he gripped me. I fell on my elbows as I had my camera with me. He kicked my camera then proceeded to kick me. It almost seemed personal.”

This is the insane brutality that Itumbi glorifies from his exalted perch?

Shame!

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