Things That Matter

Protesters In Chile Have Been Brutally Attacked By Police And Now The President Just Admitted The Police Are Guilty

From Haiti and Puerto Rico to Ecuador and, now, Chile, communities around the world are standing up against policies that they view as contributing to growing income inequality.

After Chile’s President had announced a planned increase in public transit fares, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to announce their opposition to the plan. Chile has already been combating extreme income inequality and a growing cost of living that has outpaced wage growth, making Chile one of the most expensive Latin American countries to live in.

This growing inequality has led to major demonstrations across the country and with them, accusations of police brutality.

Chile’s President Piñera has admitted for the first time that police have abused protesters.

Credit: AFP

Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera condemned for the first time what he called abuses committed by police in dealing with four weeks of violent unrest that have rocked the South American nation.

“There was excessive use of force. Abuses and crimes were committed, and the rights of all were not respected,” the president said in a speech to the nation Sunday as it marked a month of turmoil that has left 22 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.

Accusations of police brutality and human rights violations have been levelled since the protests broke out, prompting the United Nations to send a team to investigate. Amnesty International has also sent a mission.

“There will be no impunity, not for those who committed acts of unusual violence, nor for those who committed excesses and abuses. We will do what is best for the victims,” Pinera said, referring to protesters first and then the security forces.

Public prosecutors in Chile are investigating more than 1,000 cases of alleged abuses.

Credit: Rafael Ibanez / Getty

The accusations range from torture to sexual violence – by the police and military. Police have also been accused of stopping rescuers helping a dying protester.

Chile’s independent human rights watchdog said it would file a formal complaint for murder against police officers who allegedly prevented paramedics from attending a heart attack victim amid a protest last Friday.

Security forces firing tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons made it impossible for rescuers to properly treat the victim, Chile’s publicly-funded National Institute for Human Rights said.

Twenty-nine year old Abel Acuna died shortly after at a nearby Santiago hospital. The case joins more than 1,000 others currently under investigation by public prosecutors. Accusations of abuses by security forces ranging from torture to sexual violence have multiplied during weeks of anti-government unrest.

Even the country’s highest medical body has expressed concern at the growing injuries.

Credit: Reuters

Last week, Chile’s main medical body said at least 230 people had lost sight after being shot in an eye with lead or rubber projectiles while participating in demonstrations. Of those, at least 50 people will need prosthetic eyes.

“We are facing a real health crisis,” said Dr Patricio Meza, vice-president of the Medical College of Chile.

“In three weeks, we have had the highest number of cases involving serious ocular complications due to shots in the eye.”

At demonstrations, it’s common to see police firing pellet guns at crowds. Often, “they’re firing at 90 degrees, which is to say, directly at the face,” Meza said. He said most of the injured say it’s the national police force – known as the Carabineros – who are the ones firing.

Furious Chileans have been protesting social and economic inequality, and against an entrenched political elite that comes from a small number of the wealthiest families in the country.

Credit: EPA

The massive demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, but it’s common to see hooded protesters infiltrate the gatherings, hurling rocks, raising barricades and confronting police, who clamp down with violence.

The demonstrations started originally over a rise in the fare of the metro in the capital, Santiago, but quickly spread across the country and widened into more general protests against high levels of inequality, the high price of health care and poor funding for education.

Harsh repression by the security forces further stoked the anger of those protesting as did the response by President Piñera, who declared a state of emergency and said the country was “at war”.

The government and protesters have reached at least one agreement – and that is the plan for a new constitution.

Credit: Prensa Latina

On Sunday, Pinera also praised an agreement reached last week under which Chile will draft a new constitution to replace the current one that dates back to the rightwing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990.

Many in Chile see this step – getting rid of a charter that smacks of a dark, repressive chapter in the country’s past – as a way to help end the crisis.

“If the people want it, we will move toward a new constitution, the first under democracy,” Pinera said in a speech from the presidential palace.

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People Have Taken To The Streets Across The Country In Breonna Taylor Protests

Things That Matter

People Have Taken To The Streets Across The Country In Breonna Taylor Protests

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Cities across the U.S. are seeing a new wave of unrest following the grand jury’s finding on the Breonna Taylor case. Emotions are high as people protest against the lack of charges against the officers who were involved in Taylor’s death.

Protesters are raising their voices after the decision not to charge all of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death.

Breonna Taylor was shot and killed on March 13 when police raided her apartment. The 26-year-old ER technician was sleeping when the police executed a “no-knock” warrant. However, police had the wrong address and Taylor’s boyfriend, believe their lives were in danger, fired at the police. Taylor was shot and killed in her apartment that night.

Major cities across the country saw major demonstrations spurred by the anger against the justice system.

A grand jury found one officer responsible for wanton endangerment after firing his weapon into neighboring apartments. There were no charges tied directly to Taylor’s death. The lack of charges has angered activists and advocates who are seeking significant police reform to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.

People have become hyper-aware of the issue and are paying attention to the outcomes.

Protest signs in different crowds show that the American people are paying attention. The Black Lives Matter movement became the cause at the forefront of American mentality since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death sparked national outrage and renewed energy into fighting to stop the disproportionate violence Black men, women, and children face at the hands of police.

Some motorists have turned violent against the protesters.

Video captured in both Denver and Los Angeles show vehicles driving through crowds of protesters. In Denver, the driver claims to have acted in self-defense after protesters surrounded his car. The driver claims that he did not intend to hurt anyone but reacted when protesters shattered his windshield.

In Louisville, police arrested the only Black woman in the Kentucky state legislature for protesting.

State Rep. Attica Scott was arrested for first-degree rioting, which is a class-D felony. The Louisville Metropolitan Police Department arrested 24 people Thursday night while protesting the decision not to charge the officers. Rep. Scott was arrested with other and charged with first-degree rioting and two misdemeanors for unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.

“Our call to action is to continue to make sure that the city of Louisville understands that we will not go away, that we will continue to demand the defunding of police and the dismantling of this police department because it’s corrupt from the inside out, from the bottom to the top,” Scott told NPR before the grand jury decision. “And it cannot continue to function in the way that it does.”

Taylor’s death has mobilized the nation with celebrities and politicians calling for justice.

The fight for racial justice and a systemic change to our justice and policing systems is ongoing. The people are tired of being scared and are taking a stand with their protests.

If you are out there protesting, send us your videos and photos so we can see your activism in action!

READ: Oprah Winfrey Honors Breonna Taylor With Historic O Magazine Cover

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Naomi Osaka’s Display Of Support For Black Lives Matter Was The Biggest Win At The U.S. Open… Other Than Her Big Win

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Naomi Osaka’s Display Of Support For Black Lives Matter Was The Biggest Win At The U.S. Open… Other Than Her Big Win

Al Bello / Getty

After taking home a massive victory at Saturday’s U.S. Open, tennis star Naomi Osaka cemented her status as the reigning women’s tennis champion of the year. Her victory against Belarusian tennis play Victoria Azarenka meant she took home her third Grand Slam title in just three years. But the biggest part of Osaka’s win was the powerful statement she decided to make in every match leading up to it.

The 22-year-old walked into the Arthur Ashe Stadium each day using her platform to remind the world of racial injustice.

For each of her matches, the tennis star wore masks emblazoned with the names of Black victims of police violence.

For her final match, Osaka arrived with a mask with Tamir Rice’s name. Rice was a 12-year-old boy who was murdered by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann in 2014. At the time of his murder, Rice had been carrying a replica toy gun and had been shot by Loehmann almost as soon as the officer arrived at the scene he’d been called to. Reports notes that the caller claimed that a male was pointing “a pistol” at random people but also noted that it was “probably fake.”

Osaka used her platform to also honor Black victims such as Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Breonna Taylor was a Black woman who lost her life after being fatally shot by police in March while she was sleeping in her home. Elijah McClain was killed by police in August 2019 after being put in a chokehold. Ahmaud Arbery was killed while on a jog in February. Osaka also wore the names of Trayvon Martin and Philando Castille. At the time Martin’s death in 2012, he was just 17-years old. Castille was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in 2016.

“I feel like I’m a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness,” Osaka noted to ESPNW after her quarter-final win earlier last week. At the time, Osaka sported a mask bearing George Floyd’s name. Floyd’s murder in May, sparked protests across the country.

In seeing Osaka’s dedication to his son, Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, Sr. told Osaka in a video message, “God bless you for what you’re doing.” Osaka later remarked in a tweet that after watching the video messages she “cried so much. The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me.”

After being asked about the intention behind the masks and what message she was intending to get a cross in a post-match interview, Osaka asked “Well, what was the message you got?… I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”

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