Things That Matter

Puerto Rican IDs And Driver’s Licenses Are Legal And It’s Time For People To Stop Saying They Are Invalid

Since Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland U.S. The move is possible because Puerto Ricans are American citizens after the passage of the Jones Act of 1917. While the Jones Act made them U.S. citizens, they are not full Americans lacking the right to vote in elections and their representatives do not have voting power. Yet, despite the law making Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens, some people on the mainland are still in the dark when it comes to Puerto Rican identification cards.

An NYU journalism student was recently turned away at a bar because a bouncer decided that her Puerto Rican ID was invalid.

Credit: all.around.the.town / Instagram

According to Washington Square News, NYU’s independent student newspaper, Rebecca Gelpí was with a group of friends when they decided to head to Los Feliz, a Mexican bar and restaurant. According to Washington Square News, the bouncer for Los Feliz said that he was “uncomfortable” with their form of ID and asked why they didn’t have a passport.

“They asked us why we did not have our passports with us,” Gelpí told Washington Square News. “So I said, ‘Because we’re American citizens, we don’t need to carry [them] around.’”

According to the Washington Square News, this is one of many instances of the bar refusing to acknowledge legal IDs from Puerto Ricans who want to get in. The report shows two other instances of people leaving feedback about the bar’s blatant refusal to accept their Puerto Rican identification and legitimate. This isn’t the only instance of a U.S. business claiming Puerto Rican IDs are foreign.

An Indiana Purdue University engineering student says CVS employees would not sell him over-the-counter cold medicine after demanding immigration papers. Jose Guzman Payano, who is Puerto Rican and therefore an American citizen, said that he presented his driver’s license issued from Puerto Rico but the workers rejected it. The employees insisted he needed a “valid” U.S. ID and began to interrogate Guzman Payano about his immigration status. 

The student formally filed a complaint with CVS, but because of the debacle, he wasn’t able to purchase the cold medicine he needed. His mother Arlene Payano Burgos shared his story on Facebook, where it went viral and began to receive attention from reporters. CVS says it is investigating the situation. 

CVS employee allegedly claims Puerto Rican driver’s license is not valid U.S. ID. 

“She said she needed a U.S.-issued ID, Canada or Mexico license. That’s when I tell her that was a U.S. issued license, and I didn’t need anything else but that license,” said Guzman Payano explained to WUSA. 

He claimes the cashier of the store refused to accept his driver’s license from Puerto Rico, but would have accepted one from Canada or Mexico, when he went to purchase Mucinex. Guzman Payano was all the more stunned when she asked him for a visa— the presumption being he must not be a citizen. 

“And then when she asked me for a visa, I was in shock at that time. And we went back and forth, and I said this is a U.S.-issued license,” said Guzman Payano. Sadly this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to the student. 

He showed the cashier his United States-issued passport and he says she still refused to sell him the medicine. 

“I carry around my passport on my bookbag because of things like this,” he said.

Guzman Payan files a formal complaint with CVS. 

Update in my comments:My family and I are Puerto Rican. For those of you who don’t know, we are a United States…

Posted by Arlene Payano Burgos on Friday, October 25, 2019

Guzman Payano left the store without his cold medicine and called his mother, Arlene Payano Burgos in Puerto Rico. Payano Burgos took the incident to Facebook where her story was shared over 10,000 times. 

“A Puerto Rican driver’s license is a valid form of US identification, and is even accepted by the Transportation Security Administration for travel within the United States. In an effort to wrap up the transaction and get back to school, he then proceeded to show her his United States Passport which she also refused to accept,” the mother wrote.

Adding that the employees refused to give Guzman Payano their information for the complaint. 

“She then subsequently refused to sell him the medication. The shift manager then came out and gave him the same explanation. My son then asked them for their names to file a complaint. Both employees refused to give him their information and he was forced to leave the store without the medication.”

Payano Burgos thought it was outrageous that any customer would be forced to disclose their immigration status to CVS whether they were a citizen or not. 

“Needless to say my son, or any other consumer, is not obligated to disclose his immigration status to any CVS employee! What caused this employee to ask him for his visa? Was it his accent? Was it his skin color? Was it the Puerto Rican flag on the license? Whatever triggered her to discriminate against my son embodies exactly what is wrong in the United States of America today,” she wrote. 

CVS releases a statement about the incident. 

Guzman Payano said it took nine days for CVS to contact him about the complaint, according to WUSA

“I felt ignored basically like something did happen, but they didn’t want to take care of it,” he said.

A CBS spokesperson released a statement to WUSA Eyewitness News that included an apology to Guzman Payano saying that Puerto Rican driver license’s are a valid form of U.S. identification. 

“CVS Pharmacy is committed to ensuring that every customer receives courteous, outstanding service in our stores. We sincerely apologize to our customer in West Lafayette for his recent experience in one of our stores. We do, in fact, recognize Puerto Rican driver’s licenses to be a valid form of U.S. identification. We are reinforcing with employees the correct procedures to follow when requesting identification that is required by law for the purchase of certain over-the-counter medications.”

According to the New York Times, a 2017 Morning Consult poll found that 46 percent of Americans don’t know people born in Puerto Rico are United States citizens by birthright. 

“There’s a lack of education — especially here in the states — of how Puerto Rico came to be part of the U.S. Some people don’t even know where Puerto Rico is located,” Guzman Payano said.

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Legendary Astrologer Walter Mercado’s Home In Puerto Rico Is For Sale And At A Discount

Entertainment

Legendary Astrologer Walter Mercado’s Home In Puerto Rico Is For Sale And At A Discount

Prediction: You will want to check out Walter Mercado’s house in Puerto Rico, and maybe even buy it up and call it home. And what perfect timing, because the stars have aligned to bring you his Puerto Rico pad at an unbeatable price.

That’s right! Walter Mercado’s home in San Juan is up for sale!

Located in an “exclusive area” of San Juan, according to the property listing, the six-bedroom, five-bathroom estate is on sale for just $395,000.

Since you likely won’t fly to San Juan right now (thanks, COVID), you can check out the flamboyant cape aficionados sweet, two story tropical oasis on Realtor.com.

The listing photos show the home’s vibrant interior, which appears in the documentary, with yellow, red and green walls. The first floor boasts a large living room, kitchen and dining room. Tile-work leads up the stairs to the second level, where there’s yet another living room, dining room and a smaller kitchen — plus two balconies.

Outside, there’s a pool area with a gazebo and a patio, as well as a covered carport for at least four cars.

The home seems to be having trouble finding a buyer.

The estate originally hit the market for $495,000 in September 2020 but with no buyer in the cards, it then had its price slashed to $430,000 in December, according to Realtor.com. It’s now asking just $395,000.

Mercado already sold his Miami property in 2017 to cover financial difficulties.

While in Miami, Mercado maintained an apartment at The Grand in downtown for many years until 2017 when he decamped part time to New York.

Many in his family had hoped to turn his Puerto Rico home into a museum to the late icon, but due to zoning issues the family decided the best step forward was to list the home for sale. Regarding Mercado’s belongings that were contained within the home (so many of which we came to see in the Netflix documentary), one of his nieces told Pledge Times, that though family members have each kept some items, many were given to the Miami History Museum, and some items will go to Mexico. However, his cape with the Puerto Rican flag is being sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

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A Black Student From Louisiana State Accused Three Police Offers Of Unzipping His Pants To ‘Look’ For Drugs

Things That Matter

A Black Student From Louisiana State Accused Three Police Offers Of Unzipping His Pants To ‘Look’ For Drugs

Abuse of power by police is alive and well in Baton Rouge and in urgent need of being stopped.

Three police officers from the Louisiana capital have been put on paid administrative leave after accusations of harassment were issued by a local Black college football freshman. According to the student, Koy Moore a freshman who plays a wide receiver at Louisiana State University, the three police officers unzipped his pants and confiscated his phone to prevent him from recording the incident.

In a post shared to Twitter on Saturday, Moore claimed that the officers “violated” him in an attempt to search him for drugs and weapons while screaming “Where’s your gun?”

Koy Moore claims that he was violated by three Baton Rouge police officers.

“I was violated numerous times even going as far as trying to unzip my pants in search of a weapon that I repeatedly told them I did not have,” Moore wrote in the post. “As I tried to go live for video documentation of the harassment, they snatched my phone. I could have lost my life, and I know for a fact nothing would’ve happened to the guys who did it.” 

In his post, More questioned what could have actually happened to him if he hadn’t told the officers that he was a student at LSU.

In response to his tweet, LSU faculty and staff have supported him. Ed Orgeron, LSU’s football coach even commented on the incident in a post to Twitter.“While I cannot comment on the investigation, what I can say is that we must work collectively to embrace our differences,” Orgeron he wrote. “We have to listen, learn, and come together to combat social injustice and racism if we are to create a safer and more equitable society for all.”

The official LSU Twitter account retweeted the coach’s post writing that they shared in “the sentiment shared by Coach Ed Orgeron.”

The three officers, who have been placed on paid leave, have yet to be identified to the public. Still, Chief Murphy Paul of the Baton Rouge Police Department said his department had been in contact with Moore and that an investigation is currently underway.

“We appreciate Mr. Moore bringing this incident to our attention,” Paul said in a statement. “As in every case, we will be collecting all available evidence and conducting interviews. Accountability and transparency are critical in building trust with the community. I pledge a thorough investigation into this complaint.”

The incident in Baton Rouge underlines that major issue in modern American politics. 

During the summer, after Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were murdered by police, Baton Rouge took part in the nationwide protests.

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