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Dominican Cops Are Arresting LGBTQ So They Can Ask For Bribes

Last Sunday, squads of heavily armed Dominican National Police officers conducted a sweep of at least 4 public plazas in Santo Domingo. During their sweep of Plaza Duarte, a popular LGBQT cruising spot in the city’s historic colonial quarter, officers detained over 20 individuals. Alina Estrella witnessed the roundup and recorded the above video, which shows  scores of men in the back of a truck being led away by a convoy of police vehicles. The video has gone viral on Dominican social media.

One of the individuals detained, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal, said that he was sitting in the park holding his partner’s hand when police officers rounded them up.

“Some men immediately bribed the police officers, so they were let go,” the witness said. “My partner and I didn’t have much money on us, so we were paraded around the city on the back of the truck and then taken to the police station.”

Both those detained and the human rights lawyers who organized to release them insist that, once in lockup, the men were denied the right to make phone calls, were charged with no crime, and were only let go that evening if they paid a bribe, or called in a favor.

“The police officers did this without the permission of the prosecutors, you can tell because the moment the city prosecutors office woke up on Monday morning, everyone got released,” said Guillermo Peña, director of Dominican human rights observatory, COIN. Peña was present at the police station.

Yimbret Telemín, and LGBTQ activist who was also at the jail, points to a larger pattern of police repression and arbitrary extra-legal detention.

“The National Police are a predatory organization,” Telemîn claims. “They get paid nothing in wages, so they do these arbitrary sweeps as a way of making a quick buck. You get out of jail quickly if you pay, or if you know somebody. This is not the first dragnet that has targeted members of our community.”

Spokesmen for the Dominican National Police Force have so far declined to comment.

Dominican cops are indeed paid miserable wages. Privates make the equivalent of 125 dollars a month, and this correspondent has personally been solicited for bribes by several officials on multiple occasions. The practice, known as a picoteo, or hen-pecking, is meant to supplement the officer’s meager wages, but often ends up targeting members of marginalized communities.

Our anonymous witness said he suffered no physical abuse and was released later that evening after a 500 peso bribe (approximately 11 dollars). But the injustice of the situation isn’t lost on him.

“How is it possible that I get detained just for sitting on a bench with my partner?” he fumed.

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Women Are Marching In The Dominican Republic As Part Of A Green Wave To End The Country’s Total Abortion Ban

Fierce

Women Are Marching In The Dominican Republic As Part Of A Green Wave To End The Country’s Total Abortion Ban

For years now, women across Latin America have been fighting for their rights. In too many countries women are literally fighting for their safety and lives, not to mention access to equal pay, education, and safe and legal abortion.

Recently, these activists have started to see victories pop up across the region in what many are calling a green wave. With Argentina having legalized abortion late last year, many are hoping that the momentum will carry over into other countries.

Dominican feminists are demanding an end to the nation’s total abortion ban.

The Dominican Republic’s current penal code (which penalizes abortions) dates all the way back to 1884. It should go without saying that the time to update these archaic laws is long overdue.

The group of feminists use the hashtag #Las3CausalesVan and wear green, representing the latest in a green wave of reproductive rights that has spread across Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We are manifesting in front of Congress to demand respect to the life, health and dignity of women, emphasizing the inclusion of the three causals in the penal code,” Saray Figuereo, one of the activists involved in the movement, told the APP. “And we won’t let them make up an excuse that they’ll include them in a special law.”

The movement for the “Las 3 causales” (3 “causals” or “grounds/circumstances” in English) demands the approval of abortion in three extreme cases:

  1. When the pregnancy is a byproduct of a rape or incest
  2. When it represents a risk for the woman (or girl)
  3. When the fetus is nonviable

It’s the first time in generations that there is hope to update the country’s laws.

In 2020, the Dominican Republic held a historic election where Luis Abinader of the Modern Revolutionary Party won the presidential elections—the first time an opposing party won after a 16-year rule by the Party for Dominican Liberation.

In an interview with El País, he said, “Look, I disagree, as does the majority of the population, not only in the Dominican Republic but in the world, with free abortion, but I do think that there must be causals that allow the interruption of pregnancy. That has been the official position of our party.”

Reproductive rights in the Dominican Republic have long been an ongoing issue. The ratio of maternal mortality in the country is 150 per 100,000 births, higher than the average of 100 in Latin America.

“It’s been over 25 years fighting for this and all the lives that we keep losing, especially marginalized lives that are not even valuable enough for the media and the press to cover them, because the erasure of these voices is constant in the Dominican Republic,” activist Gina M. Goico told the AP.

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A 1-Year-Old Was Shot In The Head By Houston Police, Now He’s Fighting For His Life

Things That Matter

A 1-Year-Old Was Shot In The Head By Houston Police, Now He’s Fighting For His Life

Updated March 24, 2021.

The police of Houston are under fire again after it was revealed that a 1-year-old boy was shot in the head by an officer earlier this month. The tragic incident happened on March 3.

At the time Daisha Smalls was at a gas station filling up her car when she saw police cars and sirens.

According to Smalls, she was sitting inside of her car when a man approached her and told her to get out of her car.

At the time of the attempted hijacking, Smalls’ son Legend, was in the backseat.

“I wouldn’t give him my car because I let him know that I have a child in my car and that I would not leave my car without my son,” Smalls explained. The man then pushed his way into the car and attempted to hijack the vehicle.  

Police shot into Smalls’ car and killed the suspect who’d forced his way onto her lap. The police also injured her son Legend.

The 1-year-old was struck in the head with a bullet.

“I was just scared for my son’s life,” Smalls explained in a recent interview. Smalls went onto share that her son “didn’t deserve to be shot, especially not by the police.” According to reports, doctors removed part of Legend’s skull to make space for brain swelling. They were able to remove the bullet but small fragments from the bullet remain.

“He’s had multiple seizures, over 10 seizures, he’s still fighting for his life,” he explained.

Antonio Romanucci, co-counsel to Smalls’ lawyer said they are still investigating the incident but that the Houston police “can anticipate a lawsuit being filed shortly.”

Earlier this month, Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner claimed that Smalls was not in the car at the time of the hijacking. The hijacker was 30 and the suspect of two armed robberies. Police told him to drop his weapon and when he refused an officer fired several shots at him. The man died at the scene.

Finner claimed that the police officer was unaware that Legend was in the car. 

“Fearing for the mother’s safety, one of our officers discharged his duty weapon, fatally striking the suspect,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement shared to Twitter. “Sadly, baby Legend was also struck. Officers at the scene immediately rendered first aid to Legend… We are hoping and praying for the full and speedy recovery of little one-year-old Legend Smalls.”

Small’s attorney, Ben Crump explained that the clerk at the gas station told ABC13 that there is a surveillance video of the shooting.

“Why would they shoot knowing she was in the car? Not knowing who else was in the car. There could have been children, there could’ve been others in the car, but they shot,” Crump explained. “Regrettably and tragically, little Legend will live the rest of his life with the consequences of their decision to shoot into his mama’s car even though they knew she was in there.”

The attorney to Smalls, who has disputed police accounts that she was out of the car when the shooting began, has said that they expect to file a lawsuit in regards to the incident.

“Were the actions of the Houston Police Department both objective and reasonable under the circumstances?”Romanucci commented at a recent news conference according to The New York Times. “Clearly the answer is no.”

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