“Unfair” COVID-19 Food Distribution Leaves One Dead In Marshall City, As Rep. Tarponweh Condemns Police Brutality
From Christopher Wiah, GNN Correspondent In Margibi County*
A serious clash over the distribution of the Covid-19 stimulus package has allegedly led to the killing of a 22 year old man identified as Ralph Massalay in Marshall City.
According to eyewitnesses, the deceased was stabbed on Thursday night, February 18, 2021 by a dismissed LDEA officer only identified as Sackie. The residents said Sackie has been serving as a police aid in Marshall City since his dismissal from the Liberian Drugs Enforcement Agency.
Eyewitnesses disclosed that Sackie committed the act when a tussle started between the youths of Marshall City and the team of joint securities assigned in Marshall City and distributors of the stimulus package headed by the World Food Programme (WFP) over the distribution of the stimulus package.
Philex Lawrence, an eyewitness explained that at 10:00PM on Thursday night, the residents noticed some individuals including the securities assigned at the Marshall Police Deport attempting to take portion of the stimulus package. The act, according to him, triggered the violence.
“The stimulus package is to be distributed to everyone who was registered. The food distributors started the distribution and later informed us that the food was finished. They closed by 5:00 PM, but there were still lot of bags of rice within the warehouse. Last night by 10:00 PM, the WFP workers took 12 bags and gave it to the security. So, others saw it and started alarming”, Mr. Lawrence asserted.
Another eyewitness, Prince Harris also added: “After the distribution yesterday, there were still more bags of rice within the warehouse while the residents were outside complaining to get food. It was at that moment the head of the stimulus package distribution in Marshall called the police to carry their portion of the bags of rice. When the police commander came along with his guys, they started shouting that everyone should leave. It was how the tensions started. The deceased was not part of the fight but had turned from buying water. Sackie and the other officers started beating him. When the residents went there, they saw the boy’s intestines outside”.
The alleged killing of Massalay angered the youths of Marshall City and led to them setting ablaze a vehicle belonging to the commander of the city police deport.
They had questioned the nature of the distribution of the Covid-19 stimulus package by the distributors, terming it as “unfair”.
Addressing the press after calming down the situation, Representative Tibelrosa Summoh Tarponweh of Margibi County Electoral District #1 condemned the killing of a peaceful citizen and the burning of the police deport commander’s vehicle.
“I was awakened by the sad news of the death of one of our citizens. Ralph met his untimely death from the saga of the Covid-19 food distribution. It is a sad time for us. We have come not to only console the family of the deceased, but to also ascertain preliminary facts as to what led to his untimely death. There are more questions than answers right now and we call on the LNP for speedy and professional investigation. My Office will work with the police to get to the bottom of this situation”, Representative Tarponweh lamented.
The Lawmaker also frowned on the manner in which the stimulus package is being distributed, describing it as a “nightmare”. He said the food distribution went contrary to the census provided.
“This covid food distribution has been a nightmare for our people. We have on many occasions received complains about how inappropriate this distribution is being carried out. This was a tradegy awaiting to happen. Unfortunately, our office was not involved, we are now mourning the death of Massalay. The key issue is what led to his untimely demise. We don’t want food distribution, which should provide relief, is now the cause of someone being killed”, the Margibi County Lawmaker continued.