|ACLU Calls on President Obama to Address Police Brutality in Puerto Rico|
Graphic Video Shows Repeated Assaults on Peaceful Demonstrators and Journalists by Police
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 10, 2011
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today called on President Obama to press Puerto Rican leaders about a pattern of police brutality and governmental suppression of First Amendment rights during his scheduled visit Tuesday to the U.S. commonwealth. In a letter sent today to the president, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero highlights ACLU interviews that reveal systematic violations of freedom of speech, peaceable assembly and freedom from violence through police assaults on students, labor leaders, demonstrators, journalists and low-income, black and Dominican communities on a regular basis.
The ACLU will also raise these serious concerns in full-page ads to be taken out Tuesday in Puerto Rico's largest Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Dia and its only English-language newspaper The Daily Sun. An ad will also run Sunday through Tuesday in New York's El Diario La Prensa, one of the nation's largest Spanish-language newspapers.
"In contrast to recent non-violent protests in Wisconsin, Puerto Rican police have cracked down violently on protestors in the U.S. territory in blatant violation of their constitutional and human rights," Romero said in the letter. "The severity and scope of police abuse documented by the ACLU are on a level that would not be tolerated in the 50 states."
Under the U.S.Constitution, Puerto Ricans are entitled to the same rights and protections as U.S. citizens. The ACLU of Puerto Rico has verified numerous incidents of police abuse since 2004. These incidents have increased in their frequency and intensity over the last two years. University of Puerto Rico students at peaceful protests have been subjected to violent attacks and arrest while female students have been inappropriately touched by police officers during the protests. Union leaders and protesters outside the Capitol Building and other public spaces have been pepper sprayed, beaten and shot at with rubber bullets by police. Video of numerous incidents has been posted on YouTube. Acompilation can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech-human-rights/police-abuse-puerto-rico This year the national office of the ACLU conducted fact-finding research in Puerto Rico and last month convened a high-level delegation in the commonwealth that included such notables as actor Rosie Perez and baseball legend Carlos Delgado. The delegation met with governmentofficials including the secretary of state, attorney general, the police superintendent and legislators of both the majority and the minority parties. The ACLU will issue a comprehensive report documenting the research findings in September. The U.S. Department of Justice has been conducting an inquiry into these abuses, and the ACLU has provided information to the agency. This week in Washington Romero, along with Angelo Falcón of the National Institute for Latino Policyand Juan Cartagena of Latino Justice PRLDEF, discussed the issue with members of the House and Senate, as well as representatives from the Justice Departmentand Department of Education. "The federal government must intervene toensure constitutional and human rights in Puerto Rico are respected, "Romero said in his letter to the president. "We applaud your administration’s vigorous support for the free speech and assembly rights of civil society in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. However, as we turn our eyes toward abuses in other countries, we cannot turn a blind eye toward our own."
Additional information is available online at: www.aclu.org/puertorico
The full text of theletter can be found at: https://www.aclu.org/free-speech-human-rights/letter-president-obama-puerto-rico
|< Prev||Next >|