Miami-Dade County

South Florida Nigerians to rally in support of kidnapped school girls

Building off a growing social media campaign, South Florida Nigerian-Americans are planning to rally for the more than 300 Nigerian girls kidnapped last month from their school by an Islamist extremist group.

The Coalition of Concerned Nigerians in South Florida have organized the rally, at Rolling Oaks Park, 18701 NW 17th Ct., in Miami Gardens. The group hopes to localize the #bringbackourgirls social media campaign that has gone viral in recent weeks.

The campaign brought widespread attention to the plight of the girls who were kidnapped on April 15 by Boko Haram, from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok. Reports indicate that about 50 of the girls were able to escape their captors, but about 276 remain missing.

The Boko Haram terrorist network has been responsible for multiple attacks and kidnappings throughout the country leading to more than 1,500 deaths in 2014 alone. The group released a video Monday, that supposedly shows about 100 of the girls gathered in an unknown location.

The organizer of the rally, Yinka Tella, a counselor at Broward College, said he was motivated to organize the rally after his teenage son alerted him to the situation.

“It was something of a rude awakening when my son said, ‘I hope we’re not going to Nigeria this year.’ He was really scared,” Tella said.

Now he hopes the event can help educate the Nigerian population in South Florida and people in general who may not fully understand the story.

“We need the whole world to come together to make sure that Nigeria is actually stabilized,” Tella said. “If we don’t do anything, then to the international community, it’s just another story and nothing will be done.”

Miami-Dade and Broward counties have more than 1,000 Nigerians, according to U.S. Census data.

Tella hopes to reach out to them and others. He is asking attendees to wear the colors of the Nigerian flag, either white or green, and to bring signs and placards in opposition of Boko Haram.

“We cannot allow anarchists to take over our land,” Tella said. “They have no place in this century,” he said. “They have no place in the conversation we should be having in the 21st Century.”

This report includes information from The Associated Press.