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.

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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

Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

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Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

danielaalvareztv / Instagram

Former Miss Colombia Daniella Álvarez is showing that there is nothing that can keep her down. The former beauty pageant star had to have part of her left leg amputated after complications from a routine surgery.

Daniella Álvarez, a former Miss Colombia, is showing the world her resilience.

After a routine surgical procedure, and several follow up surgeries, part of the beauty pageant star’s left leg was amputated. Despite a major surgery, Álvarez is determined to live out the rest of her dreams and regardless of the amputation.

She recently shared a video on Instagram of her dancing for the first time since the surgery 3 weeks ago.

“Putting swing to life with my favorite partner @rickialvarezv. No matter the difficulties,” Álvarez writes in her post. “We must be resilient in life!”

Álvarez’s story is a cautionary tale of the kinds of complications that can arise from routine surgical procedures.

Álvarez explains that she went in to have a lump removed from her abdomen. Unfortunately, that surgery led to complications that required follow up surgeries to rectify the issues. Those follow up surgeries led to ischemia, which is when blood doesn’t flow where it needs to. The ischemia attacked both of her legs yet the left one was the most impacted.

Doctors tried everything they could to save Álvarez’s left leg.

After multiple surgeries, it became clear to doctors that they would not be able to save Álvarez’s leg. The only option left was to amputate and Álvarez accepted that fate with grace and class. The young woman seemed at peace with the decision and trusted that her doctors had done their jobs to the best of their ability.

Best wishes on an increasingly speedy recovery!

Álvarez’s right leg is not completely healed from the complications but it is getting better.

“The ischemia has also affected the functionality of my other foot as well, I am unable to walk,” Álvarez told La FM, according to Hola. “My right foot feels completely asleep and hasn’t woken up and we don’t know how long it will take for the foot to start functioning again.”

READ: Colombia’s Beauty Queen Winner Shared Her Brave Decision To Have Her Leg Amputated

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

Things That Matter

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

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In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the country has struggled with how to best respond to police brutality and racial inequality. Millions of Americans (and millions more around the world) have poured into the streets demanding justice and police accountability.

Although more Black Americans have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd – and long before him – police reform is finally starting to take shape. Several communities across the United States are discussing ways to defund and restructure their police forces and their entire approach to supporting and protecting communities.

Although several victories have already been won, there is still so much work to do to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter.

Minneapolis will defund and dismantle their police force.

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a proposal to change the city charter to allow the Police Department to be dismantled – this is the first step in removing the police force.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that still faces significant obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. Activists have long accused the department of being unable to change a racist and brutal culture, and earlier this month, a majority of the council proclaimed support for dismantling the department.

Draft language of the amendment posted online would replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach

Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are defunding their police departments.

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Aside from completely dismantling the police, several major cities have committed to defunding their police departments. “Defund the police” has become a common protest chant, as protesters want to see the billions of dollars spent on police equipment and enforcement to instead be spent on investing in communities.

Several jurisdictions have implemented total bans on the police use of choke holds – like the one that killed Eric Gardner.

The NYPD has long banned the use of chokeholds, however, their ban is so often ignored by officers that viral videos of NYPD cops using the deadly maneuver are common. But the New York City Council has just adopted an ordinance that officially makes police use of a chokehold a misdemeanor offense.

The legal ban has already been put into action as an NYPD officer was caught on video using one against a suspect. That officer has already been fired and charged.

Although several police departments have long banned the chokehold – for example, the LAPD banned them 40 years ago – cities are now starting to actually attempt to enforce the ban with legal consequences.

For the first time in decades, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a police reform bill.

Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over how to address racial inequities in policing, despite strong public sentiment for effective reform after Floyd died in Minneapolis as a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In June, the House passed sweeping legislation to address racial inequality in policing but the bill is all but dead on arrival in the Senate, and has a formal veto threat from Trump.

The bill addresses chokeholds, no-knock warrants, police body cameras, use of deadly force, and training to de-escalate confrontations with suspects and to encourage officer intervention against illegal conduct as it occurs.

And one thing is clear – these reforms have the support of most Americans.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Most Americans believe that change must be made to law enforcement across the nation and that reforms are needed to reduce police brutality against Black Americans.

The poll, which was conducto de by Ipsos on behalf of Public Agenda and USA TODAY, found that about three in four people surveyed say racial bias against Black Americans is a serious problem in the U.S.

The poll found several reforms that focused around training and diversity in policing had support from three-quarters or more of respondents: requiring all officers to undergo training on de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force, requiring all officers to undergo training on how to be less racially biased and recruiting more Black Americans to become police officers.

Even more popular: transparency reforms. Nine in 10 respondents supported having officers wear body cameras, 8 in 10 supported requiring police departments to publicly report all incidents involving the use of force within 72 hours, and nearly as many supported creating a national public database of officers who have used excessive force – and prohibiting other jurisdictions from rehiring them.