– Tribeau laments over onlookers’ silence during the mob attack on her mother in Redlight 

By Jerromie S. Walters

In a horrific and unorthodox tragedy at Liberia’s bustling Redlight market, Ms. Deddeh Simmonds, became the victim of a severe and undesirable mob attack, which she fortunately survived. The incident which saw Ms. Deddeh Simmonds being mercilessly brutalized, and unclothed, was allegedly triggered by a politically charged encounter, when three men aaccused her of being a criminal after she refused to disclose her voting preference in the recent elections.

In a troubling video from the scene, the abusers, especially men, were seen flogging, and throwing stones and other harmful objects at Ms. Simmonds, because they said she attempted to steal a motorcycle. Helpless as she became at a certain point, the men didn’t care as they consistently brutalized her, even after they were asked to disregard the matter by an individual who was identified as a police officer. 

But, Tribeau Brown, the daughter of Ms. Deddeh Simmonds, disclosed that her mother was going about her regular routine in Redlight, when the three men approached her, inquiring about her voting choice in the recent elections. Sensing the politically charged nature of the question, Tribeau said her mother politely declined to answer, emphasizing her right to keep her vote private. However, this response seemed to have angered the three men, who then proceeded to intentionally accuse her of criminal activities, sparking the unpleasant reaction of the motorcyclists.

“They almost kill my ma, she went Redlight to buy weekly food, some three boys were following her throughout, so she decided to stop so they could pass because she felt she was blocking their way, because she’s a slow walker, so the boys came in-front of her and asked her, who you voted for? She said what kind of question are you asking me? You guys should move from in front of me, my vote is my secret so the other boy said if you don’t talk, we will beat you and naked you and that’s just what they did.”

Unfortunately, many didn’t notice that the men’s claim was false, as the incident quickly escalated when bystanders, fueled by the false allegations, joined in the demeaning assault on the woman (Deddeh).

Tribeau: “That’s how they started referring to her as criminal loudly, Princess, Princess, my mother said I am not Princess, I’m Deddeh, they kept calling her rogue, she asked them to take her to the police station, she said please don’t kill me, I’m not Princess, I’m Deddeh, women watched they beat and naked my mother.” Tribeau narrates as she sorrowfully lamented. Witnesses reported that the mob attack grew with people joining in without fully comprehending the situation or verifying the allegations.

However, sources from Redlight described the incident as mistaken identity. According to them, the aggrieved motorcyclists took Ms. Simmonds for another person who reportedly linked up with bike robbers to steal bikes. “The person alleged to be known as Princess is a bike rogue who’s wanted by bike riders. Princess supported the CDC, so that’s the reason they asked her which Party she supported with the aim of confirming if she’s actually the one they been looking for.”

We have been informed that Ms. Deddeh Simmonds, has been evacuated to Ghana, where she’s seeking medical treatment at the Yawo Clinic in Accra.

Following the disclosure of the shocking incident, social media users say it highlights the dangers of the state, unchecked rumors and the potential for violence in a society already grappling with different challenges.

“We lived in a Country with serious social issue, it bleeds my heart seeing young men beating on a decent lady with no substantial evidence of claim on stealing offense; this is just unacceptable, mob justice have no place in our society. I may not have known this woman, but it hurts so badly seeing other women standing on the scene and their fellow woman being humiliated and they just sit and do nothing about it! I wonder what kind of women are they? A disgrace to one woman is a disgrace to all Women!”

Another social media user says: “It is very easy to die on the streets of Liberia because the people we live with are so wicked and callous. Stop being friends with strangers or feeling sorry for people you see on the street. Be cautious where you go in this country because one mistake could result in you being beaten to death. This country needs to put an end to mob violence.”

Considering this and several other incidents of such: many believe that Liberia has turned into a “No Law” country. “That video is horrific! The person that recorded the video should go along with those rebels that were found in the act!!!”

Case current status

The incident which is said to have taken place in November of this year, left social media users shocked, upon the release of the video from the scene and seeing how a woman was maltreated over unverified allegation.

It is reported that the case is currently in court. However, report says the 3 suspects earlier apprehended by the police were later released on bill.

The Elections 

Liberia’s recent elections (October 10, and November 14, 2023) were highly contested, but with different reports of violence, some even led to deaths. Undoubtedly, the incident at Redlight market underscores the deep divisions within the country, that was previously emphasized by the outgoing President George Weah, in a statement while conceding defeat following the election results.

President Weah: “However, the closeness of the results reveals a deep division within our country. As we transition to the new Boakai administration, we must be vigilant to the dangers of division and work together to find common ground. Now, more than ever, unity is paramount for the love of Mama Liberia.”

Unarguably, many say it also signifies that political affiliations can easily ignite violence. The is proven in the fact that Ms. Simmonds was targeted solely based on her refusal to disclose her voting choice demonstrates the dangerous consequences of political intolerance and the erosion of respect for individual rights.