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#OccupyJulorbiHouse: Ghanaian Youth Protest for Change as Country’s Economy Continues to Worsen

Two years after the #FixTheCountry protest, Ghanaian youth decided to embark on another one of which the demands were similar to that of the #FixTheCountry: poor economic conditions, unemployment, corruption, and a  general decline in the standard of living.

The protest, organized by a group called Democracy Hub and under the hashtag #OccupyJulorbiHouse (to wit “occupy the house of thieves” in Ga, a local language) , was planned to happen from September 21 to 23 to coincide with Founder’s Day—a national holiday honoring Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and a prominent advocate for African independence and unity. The protestors had initially planned to picket at the Jubilee House but what was intended as a peaceful demonstration took a distressing twist when protestors clashed with Ghana Police, who forcefully attempted to disperse the crowd.

This unfortunate escalation led to the arrest and alleged assault of over 40 individuals, including Oliver Barker-Vormawor, the convener of the Occupy Jubilee House movement. The clash between protestors and police marked a regrettable chapter in their struggle to voice concerns about the nation’s challenges. The police claimed they obtained a court injunction to prevent the demonstration from taking place at the Jubilee House because they considered it a security zone.

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As a protest that largely started on  X (formerly Twitter), it did not cease to spark a buzz on social media, with some Ghanaian celebrities taking to their platforms to share posts about the event. Notably, some of these celebrities actively participated in the protest themselves, further amplifying the message and impact of the demonstration.

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In an interview with TV3 at the protest grounds, Bridget Otoo confirmed that she had experienced police assault and mentioned that her attire was torn during the altercation.

“While we were sitting there, one police officer, he would come out and pick people and assault them. You don’t need to do anything, they’ll just pick you,” Otoo told TV3. “I was holding a guy’s phone, he was live on Twitter (now X) and I were talking in the space because a question was asked on what was happening on the demonstration grounds. While I was talking and holding his phone, the police charged at us for doing absolutely nothing, attacking him. He ripped my bag and they pulled my dress and now I have a ripped dress.”.

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Ghana’s foremost rapper, @Sarkodie, also shared his thoughts in a subtle tweet on X.

“You can only be scared of a peaceful protest when you know you deserve otherwise,” Sarkodie tweeted.

Photos from social media show protesters wearing red and black attires to symbolize their grief and defiance. They carried placards with messages such as “Fix the country”, “We are suffering”, “Stop borrowing” and “We Deserve Better”. Similar messages have been taking over  social media timelines in the country.

Reports have it that all those who were arrested have been released and the protest will continue through to September 23, 2023 as initially scheduled.

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