KENYA – Beth Njoki, who is known in her Kenyan community as the “defender of the young people” will not stop speaking out against police violence.
Beth has always been quick to call out injustice and stand up for what is right in her community. Several years ago, this landed her in trouble with the police when she threatened to inform the commanding officers after police rounded up her son and other young men for crimes they did not commit. This was a routine injustice that she saw happening in her community.
To retaliate, the police trumped up charges against Beth and had her thrown in jail. IJM was able to support Beth to have those baseless charges thrown out, and to this day she has refused to be quiet about the things that matter.
Last summer, Beth joined the inaugural meeting of the Kenya Champions of Justice, a group of survivors who want to use their voices and stories to raise awareness of police violence and act as agents of change in their communities. The plan for this group is to provide trainings and meetings that will help amplify survivor voices through public advocacy.
On February 21, 2020, before the COVID-19 curfew was declared in Kenya, police officers shot a man outside a hospital, and Beth’s son was once again picked up by police despite not being involved. Beth was interviewed by a news reporter, fearlessly speaking out yet again to draw attention to the injustice that young men suffer under police. Her son was released after IJM sent an advocate to the police station, and Beth’s advocacy to protect others continues.
Beth’s unstoppable courage to speak out against injustice has earned respect from her community. She was selected by her local elders to be a community health volunteer, helping sick people or pregnant women reach the hospital. She educates them on health and when they should seek treatment.
She is also known by police officers in the area as a defender of the young people. Beth takes time to talk to young men about the risks of engaging in crime and encourages them to earn an honest living. If they experience harassment from police, they come to her for advice.
“Where community and police have confrontations, it’s the community that suffers the most,” Beth said. “I would like to see police stop abusing power.”