Exclusive interview with Nigerian protester, more details on what went down

Racial tensions are boiling over in Guangzhou following yesterday’s protest in Sanyuanli.  The Nanfang was the first to report that a crowd of Nigerians and other Africans blocked traffic in Guangzhou to protest the death of a Nigerian man under suspicious circumstances.

Since our initial report, more details have come to light.  It appears to have started when a Nigerian man was asked to pay an additional fare to a moped driver after reaching his destination.  The Global Times reports this:

“The dispute between the foreign man and the driver surnamed Sun over the fare happened at around 1 pm Monday on Guangyuan Road West in the city’s Yuexiu district,” Guangzhou police said on its official Weibo Tuesday.

“They were taken to the police station for investigation, but the foreigner suddenly fell into a coma at around 5 pm and died after receiving medical treatment at the station,” said the police, adding that an initial medical report shows no obvious bodily injuries.

At 3 pm Tuesday, the foreigners gathered at the Kuangquan police station, where the Nigerian man had died, blocking the streets to traffic.

Naturally, we’re hearing a slightly different version of events.

According to Matouvu, a 26-year old Nigerian who lives in the Sanyuanli area, the initial altercation between the moped driver and Nigerian man was in the wee hours of yesterday (June 19) morning.  She said when she arrived at her office around 8 o’clock yesterday morning, police cars remained around the area where the altercation had taken place.  ”I called to find out what was going on, and they said one man had died from a beating,” she said.

According to what Matouvu has heard, which we cannot verify, the Chinese moped driver asked the Nigerian man to pay RMB5, which the man claimed not to have.  It’s not clear if the RMB5 was part of the originally-agreed fare, or an additional charge.  Regardless, when the Nigerian man refused to pay, the Chinese moped driver notified his friends to help pressure the Nigerian man.  At some point, the altercation escalated, and many believe he was eventually beaten to death.

Matouvu said news of the man’s death spread quickly, and by the afternoon many in the Nigerian community wanted the police to do something about it.  That’s when crowds began to gather outside of the police station.  ”I got there around 11,” Matouvu said. “There were maybe 50 Nigerians and five police cars.  At that time, everything was normal.”

“Chaos started at about 1pm,” she continued.  ”Nigerians were in the middle of the road.  No cars were allowed to pass.  Everything came to a standstill,” she said.  She also noted shops along Gongyuan West Road closed down.

The crowds swelled shortly thereafter, and that’s when things deteriorated.  ”Chinese people were very big; they had huge sticks,” she said.  ”At first it was peaceful, police were trying to make peace.  I don’t know what exactly started the fighting.  I could see bottles breaking and being thrown.”

She doesn’t know if anyone was severely hurt in the melee, but said word is circulating in the Nigerian community that two police officers were badly injured.

There are rumours that the Nigerian ambassador is en route to Guangzhou to quell some of the anger, and another demonstration could be planned for later.

“I don’t feel safe,” Moutava said. “It’s the responsibility of the Chinese to protect foreigners, right?  What’s the point of being here if we can’t be safe?”

Judging by the online reaction to yesterday’s protest, things may be getting worse.  Several  Chinese netizens have lashed out at the African community in Guangzhou, with several calling on them to be sent home.

The Nanfang translated a few of the comments circulating on Sina Weibo:

Letour: The Guangzhou Public Security Bureau should implement a measure, drive out all illegal foreigners.

Chongqing taxi booking: Chinese and foreigners are equal, and it’s the same when they’re dead. Deal with this normally.

Qingqing Ruwu: Whichever country you’re in, you need to respect the local laws and customs, since an illegal immigrant used public transport without paying and got into a fight, a government institution should intervene, otherwise this kind of thing will become commonplace, and it will be too late to do anything about it. I don’t want to be surrounded by these kinds of people.

Wenting 1588: Our African brothers are poor, but they must respect the law.

Tungu yihao: Police comrades, pay attention to the threat of AIDS. I have never felt such antipathy to foreigners as now.

Shawu zhixing: Send all of these laowai to jail for a few days.

Jxnclai: Let’s send all black illegal immigrants home immediately.

Suiyuan Pisces: Black people are too arrogant.

Liu Laoweng: Guangzhou is going to follow in Europe’s footsteps and get overrun by black people.

Xiaosanzoutianya: I can confirm the cause of death. He was so black, he had clearly been burned to death by the sun.

Xiaosanzoutianya: (earlier) Black trash, get the hell out of China.

Cai Ruzhang: I often see black people out and about, not fully clothed, and sometimes even pissing on the street! I don’t understand, why does Guangzhou welcome black people in such a way? They bring to this city 100 vices and not a single virtue, anybody paying attention can see this. Are you really suggesting deporting illegal black people is not a good idea? I would rather be surrounded by Pakistanis, Koreans and Japanese than blacks.

We’ve posted a selection of photos that circulated on Weibo below (courtesy of ChinaSMACK) as well as a video of the protest.

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