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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Here’s How You Can Help Daunte Wright’s Family After He Was Killed By Police

Things That Matter

Here’s How You Can Help Daunte Wright’s Family After He Was Killed By Police

Police have taken another Black man’s life, this time it’s 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Protests have broken out in cities across the country as the nation reacts to the killing of yet another young Black man.

But as the nation reacts to the murder, Wright’s family – his mother and child – need all the support they can get right now and thankfully there are many ways that we can all be better allies while helping support the family that Wright leaves behind.

Daunte Wright is the third high-profile police murder in Minneapolis.

Daunte Wright was driving to his older brother’s house with his girlfriend on Sunday afternoon, when police pulled him over for expired tags. Police said they found an existing warrant for Wright’s arrest and attempted to handcuff him.

Bodycam footage revealed Officer Kim Potter shot Wright when she claimed to be reaching for her taser. He died on the scene, just 10 miles from where former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the death of George Floyd.

According to CNN, Daunte’s death is at least the third high-profile death of a Black man at the hands of police in Minnesota in the last five years. And Daunte Wright’s death comes less than a year after the police killing of George Floyd, which sparked protests around the world.

Daunte Wright leaves behind a family still struggling with such an immense loss.

Daunte’s mother, Katie Wright, spoke out about the fear he experienced before his death. Daunte called her after the police pulled him over, at the suggestion of his older brother. “I know my son was scared. He’s afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice. But I don’t know why, and it should have never escalated the way it did,” Katie told Good Morning America on April 13.

According to Katie, Daunte believed he was getting pulled over for his hanging air fresheners, then she heard “scuffling” and an officer told him to hang up the phone. “I tried to call back three, four times and the girl that was with him answered the phone and she said that they shot him and he was lying in the driver’s seat unresponsive.”

If you’d like to help support Daunte’s family and demand justice, below are a few resources and action items:

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Daunte Wright’s Mother Says ‘justice isn’t even a word to me’ After Police Officer Charged With Manslaughter

Things That Matter

Daunte Wright’s Mother Says ‘justice isn’t even a word to me’ After Police Officer Charged With Manslaughter

Updated April 15, 2021.

Another Black man is dead, killed by the police.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man from Minnesota was murdered on Sunday after a police officer pulled him over for a traffic violation. In an attempt to take in Wright after realizing he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, it is being said that the officer meant to use her Taser but accidentally fired her gun.

Police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota are saying that Wright’s attempt to reenter his car prompted the police fire.

Body camera footage of the Sunday incident was released for the first time on Monday during a news conference. Footage of the killing shows Wright outside of his car when authorities were attempting to place him under arrest. At one point, in the footage he can be seen attempting to reenter his vehicle, prompting a struggle with officers.

“I’ll tase ya,” a woman officer told Wright in the video after he attempted to kick her. “Taser, Taser, Taser!” the officer is heard yelling in the video before saying “Oh shit! I just shot him.”

Potter has since been arrested on a charge of second-degree manslaughter.

The 48-year-old resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department three days after she shot Wright. She has since bonded out on $100,000 bail. and is currently facing a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted.

During a news conference, members of Wright’s family spoke about holding Potter responsible.

Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, underlined We’re still never going to be able to see our baby boy that we’re never going to have again… So when people say justice, I just shake my head.”

According to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, the officer meant to reach for her Taser.

Instead, she grabbed her gun.

“This appears to me, from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” Gannon claimed.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has identified the officer in the incident as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police department. Potter is now on administrative leave.

Speaking about her standing, Gannon said “I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning.”

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott publicly supported Potter’s termination.

“My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession, so I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties,” he explained before revealing that the officers initiated the traffic stop after clocking an expired registration tag on the car’s vehicle. When they ran Wright’s name they learned that he had a warrant out for his arrest. “That’s why they were moving from the car and they were making custodial arrest.”

Gannon went onto explain that the only information he had about the arrest warrant was that it was attached to a “gross misdemeanor warrant.”

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