PR Police continues to retreat to its worst times of cruelty

July 16, 2019: The Puerto Rico Police continues to retreat to its worst times of cruelty, excessive and unjustified force and sense of impunity against the people who protest in Puerto Rico. This results in a gross violation of the fundamental right to expression at a time when Puerto Rico is democratically cornered, which has a terminal effect on civil liberties and the democratic aspirations of the country.

"In the demonstration last night, the Puerto Rico Police was perfectly seen on the offensive, throwing tear gas without provocation, dispersing the demonstration frivolously and illegally and inciting confrontation," said Mari Mari Narváez, executive director of Kilómetro Cero. "The demonstrators were not even close to the Police, they were constantly raising their arms as a sign that they were not doing anything illegal that would justify the tear gas and rubber bullets that they received." Even so, the Police violently violated the right to expression that summoned the citizenship under the demand that Governor Rosselló resign from his post. At multiple times they threw gas at hundreds of protesters, assaulted others with rubber bullets and beatings, and randomly arrested at least five people. What we saw last night was an intolerant, violent police force with a sense of impunity".

The organization warned that it will extend the complaint about the illegal actions of the Police and the call to respect the freedom of expression to forums, allies and organizations outside the country. "The Police Reform in Puerto Rico is a laughingstock, and it is proven that we can not count on the judge who supposedly supervises or the federal Justice Department that initiated the Reform" said Mari-Narváez.

"Once again, we demand respect for the indignation and expression of the people, if there is no accountability here, we will multiply the demand for justice and respect for our rights."

She also said that the statements made last night by the Commissioner of the Police, Henry Escalera, saying: "We are going to defend democracy to the last drop of blood" are irresponsible and very dangerous. "Given the situation of extreme mistrust in which we find ourselves, we cannot stop wondering what Mr. Escalera is planning or anticipating with those hyperbolic words: Do you want blood? Are you looking for it?" If so, it fails miserably to the people of Puerto Rico, because the Police work, precisely, is to protect the human integrity and the fundamental rights of Puerto Ricans who today go out to express their will. Any bloodshed will be the responsibility of the Governor in place, as it has happened throughout our history with the violence of the state against dissidents".

On the other hand, the Organization maintained that Governor Rossello's, members of his cabinet and contractors expressions in the published chat are "an unusual and painful evidence of how the state uses its power to intimidate and restrict the civil liberties of political opponents, dissidents and journalists, if this is done by the Governor, what can we expect from the Police", she questioned.

Rosselló and his group devote a large part of their exchanges to insulting or "marking" people they consider to be opponents, suggesting insults, violent campaigns of trolls against them, and even the fabrication of cases, among many other perverse strategies.

"The case of the former federal police monitor, Arnaldo Claudio, is important because everything indicates that the members of the chat achieved their purpose." The Monitor, in effect, ended up giving in. You have to wonder how much the intention discussed in the chat had to do with it. with the materialization of that resignation", says Mari Narváez.

The chat covers less than two months of conversation and "marks", for example, opposition legislator Manuel Natal, who they suggest should receive a "warning" "referring" him to the Police "without making it public."

"What was it that they were going to" refer "to the Police if there was no indication that Natal had committed any crime, or was it that they were suggesting to fabricate a case?" Mari asked herself.

"Many of the people mentioned in the chat are critical of the government but none of them represented a real threat against the members of Rossello's chat, other than in strictly political-partisan aspects. 'Targeting journalists, activists and political adversaries for something as obvious and normal as it is to disagree, suggests that the repression in Puerto Rico is normalized. Not only does the state continues to repress using its resources to destroy reputations, projects, ideas, freedom of expression and the press but potential dissidents are repressed for the mere fact of existing. Just for being a journalist or ideological opponent, they insult you or even joke of wanting to kill you. If you raise your voice against them, they "fall down" with your "people" in social networks. This is very dangerous and unacceptable in a country that boasts of having "civil liberties", and it is extremely challenging for those of us who do resistance work. Paying 'trolls' with public funds to insult, threaten, intimidate and damage reputations, is a violent, corrupt and dangerous practice because of the paralyzing effect it has on the exercise of expression and on the reputation of political dissidents, journalists, analysts and other people", concluded Mari-Narváez.

Kilometro Cero is a non-profit organization that promotes a reduction in the power gap that facilitates the excesses of the State against citizenship, especially those exercised by the Puerto Rico Police. The organization develops projects that promote citizen power in the areas of force use of the state, freedom of expression and gender violence.

#AgitaYTransforma #ProtestarNoEsUnDelito #OjoALaPolicía