In the picture William Ramírez, executive director of the ACLU of Puerto Rico. (horizontal-x3)
In the picture William Ramírez, executive director of the ACLU of Puerto Rico. (GFR Media)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in Puerto Rico, filed a suit against the Police, before the federal Department of Justice regarding how the Puerto Rico police responded to the May Day demonstration, in Hato Rey.

In a letter dated last Friday, William Ramírez, executive director of the ACLU of Puerto Rico, denounced that La Uniformada (Puerto Rico Police Department) "deliberately disregarded the protocols and police practices" that should have been implemented during the protests. Ramírez indicated that he has held meetings with José Pujol, who conducts an investigation in the office of the Technical Compliance Advisor (TCA) of the Police, Arnaldo Claudio, about these events.

 Ramírez's letter is addressed to Luis Saucedo, the lawyer who represents the federal Department of Justice in the police reform process.

The investigation conducted by the TCA includes interviews with officers of all levels, and includes the review of photos and footage provided by several organizations that participated in the protest, which ended  in several arrests.

 That investigation was ordered by federal judge Gustavo Gelpi, and should be completed between July and August.

 According to Ramírez, about 20 ACLU observers – holding clear identifications in hats, shirts and documents - were "abused and placed in dangerous situations" on May 1. He stated that observers met with the Police before that date to let them know about their role during the protest.

"Despite all forms of identification - including verbal - they were deliberately pushed back, exposed directly to tear gas and, worse, were retained and were not allowed to leave the closed area of several blocks. Once our observers reached a point where the officers blocked the exit, the observers were not allowed to leave, and were kept in the area where the police came in with tear gas and pepper spray," he said in the letter .

Ramírez noted that the members of his team were violently threatened, and he assured that the ACLU observers were treated with hostility, they were disrespected and harassed by police officers.

 In addition to this, the ACLU Executive Director pointed out two cases of possible police brutality in particular, and asked Saucedo to be criminally prosecuted.

 One of the cases is that of a water vendor, who fell to the ground after being affected by tear gas and some agents ordered him to leave the area, an order he presumably could not follow due to his situation.

"While he was on the ground, two officers began shooting rubber bullets or bullets," Ramírez wrote, indicating that the man ended up with injuries on his back. This water vendor, identified as J.H. in the document, allegedly  "suffers from what appears to be depression related to the event and some type of post-traumatic disorder".

 The other case is that of a single mother, a member of the Army Reserve and an Iraq war veteran, who while leaving the protest area was chased by dozens of policemen who threw tear gas at her. One of the policemen , wearing military clothing, "threw her pepper spray in a way rarely seen ".


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