Things That Matter

People Are Outraged That Colombian Police Shot And Killed A Teenager A Week Before His Graduation

If you haven’t already heard, thousands of people in Colombia have been embroiled in severe anti-government protests for almost a week. These protests began after rumors of reforms and pension cuts spread among unions, but they quickly escalated to include demonstrations from indigenous groups, students, and retired folks. While each of these groups has its own unique reasons for protesting, all of them are rallying against the extreme right-wing policies of President Ivan Duque.

Police involvement has grown more intense over the past few days, and on Saturday, an officer threw an unknown projectile as a means to disperse the crowd, resulting in the death of a Colombian teenager.

Credit: _dilan88_ / Instagram

Dilan Cruz, 18, attended high school in the capital of Bogotá and was due to graduate this week. He had plans to study business administration, but like the majority of his peers, he needed funding to do so. Cruz allegedly joined the protests to represent other students facing similar challenges accessing universities amid cuts to public education. Even prior to his death, his friends were showing up to the demonstrations, hoping to draw attention to the disparities affecting students all over the country.

After the initial trauma from the impact of the object (which some speculate was a stun grenade, a tear-gas canister or a rubber bullet), paramedics were able to resuscitate Cruz before rushing him to a hospital. There, he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury caused by a “penetrating object.” On Monday, a vigil was held by fellow protesters outside of the medical center, and marches were led all over the country in Cruz’s honor.

“Dilan didn’t die. Dilan was killed,” shouted hundreds of demonstrators, days after the death of Dilan Cruz.

Credit: sebasmostro / Instagram

Cruz was the fourth person to be killed during the unrest – the other three deaths occurred in incidents that, according to the police, involved looting in the western city of Cali, as well as in Bogotá (two deaths were actually linked to the city of Buenaventura, and one to the town of Candelaria). When the protests started last week, they were mostly peaceful, though violence began to erupt in Cali, where a curfew was quickly imposed. As a means of preventing the protests from spiraling out of control, a ban on alcohol sales was imposed in Bogotá for 24 hours. Additionally, the borders between Colombia and Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Venezuela were closed, prohibiting entry into Colombia by land and water. They were reopened Friday morning.

Though relative chaos has persisted, violence has been widely avoided by the demonstrators. As such, riot police are facing criticism for forcefully attempting to disperse nonviolent crowds and causing deaths like that of Dilan Cruz.

Police Chief Óscar Atehortúa stated that the police officer involved in the incident had been suspended and would be investigated. The Attorney General’s office has also opened an investigation, and various officials – including Claudia López, mayor-elect of Bogotá, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, and President Ivan Duque – have offered their condolences to Dilan Cruz’s loved ones. President Ivan Duque addressed the late teen’s mother, grandfather and two sisters on Twitter, expressing his regret for Cruz’s death.

In response to the demonstrations, President Ivan Duque held a televised address on Thursday.

Credit: ivanduquemarquez / Instagram

He said: “Today, Colombians spoke. We hear them. Social dialogue has been a main principle of this government and we need to deepen it with all sectors of society and speed up the social agenda and the fight against corruption.” Of course, people were not satisfied with this statement, and Duque met with some protesters on Tuesday to engage in that much-needed “social dialogue.” Alas, the protesters asserted that their conditions have not been met, and as a result, the National Strike Committee said on Twitter that “[We] are going to strengthen and increase protests … the strike continues.”

The Committee announced another strike on Wednesday, but Sergio Guzman, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, says that it will be difficult for Duque to adequately respond to the protesters’ demands.

“His party doesn’t really support some of these ways of thinking. So in a way, he would be generating much more internal opposition if he were to implement some of these things,” Guzman told AlJazeera. He added that the main tenets of these demands – like the full implementation of the 2016 peace deal, a pension reform and the eradication of the riot police (ESMAD) – will likely be the most challenging demands to fulfill.

On top of protestors’ renewed vigor following the conversation with Duque, Dilan Cruz’s death has sparked even more fuel for the protests.

“People will be very upset [over Cruz’s death], and it probably give people more reasons to protest,” Guzman said. “Depending on the government’s response, things may even escalate.”

READ: Colombia Becomes The Latest Latin American Nation To Face Massive Protests And Here’s Why

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

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

Fierce

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.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Jacob Blake Sends A Powerful Message To His Supporters And It’s One That We All Need To Hear

Things That Matter

Jacob Blake Sends A Powerful Message To His Supporters And It’s One That We All Need To Hear

@attorneycrump / Twitter

As protests over the shootings and deaths of Black Americans continue to take place across the country, one survivor of police violence is speaking out.

Jacob Blake, who was shot by police in the back seven times, is now paralyzed from the waist down. However, despite his heartbreaking story, he is using his voice to speak out amidst the violence and is offering an uplifting and encouraging message to those who are supporting him.

Despite being in extreme pain – which he details in the video – Blake appears to be in good spirits and hopes to help create change with his story of survival.

Jacob Blake is speaking out from his hospital bed where he lies paralyzed from the waist down — and his message is simple.

A video was posted this weekend by Blake’s family attorney, Ben Crump, which appears to have been filmed by a friend of his named Mike. It shows Jacob lying in his hospital gown and addressing the camera — sharp, alert and precise with his words.

He tells anybody who might not be living right to turn things around, as he assures them they don’t wanna end up like him, with unbearable pain, which he documents in great detail. He also addresses the African-American community at large — and it’s very uplifting.

Blake also spoke of the pain he was suffering. “Every 24 hours it’s pain, nothing but pain. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to sleep, it hurts to move from side to side, it hurts to eat,” he said.

“Your life, and not only just your life, your legs, something you need to move around and forward in life, can be taken from you like this,” he said, clicking his fingers.

“Stick together, make some money, make everything easier for our people out there, man, because there’s so much time that’s been wasted,” he added.

Blake is paralyzed from the waist down after a white police officer shot him in the back, seven times.

A white police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times while trying to arrest him, as he tried to get into a car. The shooting happened just inches away from his children, who watched what happened in horror.

Blake was not armed when he was shot and the footage of the incident paints a damning picture of police brutality.

Videos of the shooting, which were uploaded online, sparked a series of protests in Kenosha, which turned violent at points. Two protesters were killed amid widespread looting and vandalism. A 17-year-old has been charged over the deaths. 

Both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have since visited the city. Mr. Biden spoke over the phone with Mr Blake and met his relatives. He has called for the officer who shot him in the back to be arrested.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com