Things That Matter

Police Violated This Woman’s Rights And Dignity When They Pulled Out Her Tampon On The Side Of A Busy Street

On Thursday, the City of San Antonio approved a $205,000 payout to a woman who had been violated by police officers.

Natalie Simms, 40, sued the city of San Antonio, Texas and ex-Detective Mara Wilson — who removed Simms’ tampon despite being told she was on her period.

The unimaginable experience all started when Simms was sitting on a curb and was approached by police.

Natalie Simms, a woman in her late 30s living in San Antonio, wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary as she waited for her boyfriend on that day in August 2016. She was sitting on the curb, her car parked across the street, talking on the phone and minding her own business.

That’s when police officers arrived. They believed she might be in possession of illegal drugs and asked to search her car. After she agreed, they called a female officer to also search her. Even though she didn’t have any contraband, they said she couldn’t leave until she was fully searched by detective Mara Wilson, according to court records filed last year in the Western District of Texas.

Later, Wilson, who allegedly did not have a warrant at the time, asked Simms if she could pull down her shorts.

Out in the public, as cars drove by, Wilson conducted a vaginal cavity search, the lawsuit said. Wilson instructed Simms to “spread your legs,” and asked, “do you have anything down here before I reach down here?”

“Natalie began to realize, with shock, what Officer Wilson intended to do,” according to the lawsuit. “Officer Wilson intended to reach down into Natalie’s pants and made contact with her pubic hair and vagina.”

When Simms told Wilson that she was on her period, the lawsuit alleges that Wilson lied by saying she wasn’t going to reach into her pants but just “look.” Instead, with five male officers watching, Wilson “pulled open Natalie’s pants and underwear.”

The conversation between Simms and Wilson, taken directly from the lawsuit, reads:

WILSON: Uh-huh. Are you wearing a tampon, too?
SIMMS: Yes.
WILSON: Okay. I just want to make sure that’s what it is. Is that a tampon?
SIMMS: Come on. Yes.
WILSON: Huh? Is that a tampon?
SIMMS: It’s full of blood, right? Why would you do that?
WILSON: I don’t know. It looked like it had stuff in there.
SIMMS: There ain’t nothing in there.

Wilson also commented on the amount of pubic hair Simms had and continued to tell Simms they could not go to the police station to finish conducting the search, despite Simms’ persistence, the lawsuit states.

Following the search, Simms sued the city of San Antonio and Wilson, alleging the encounter to be a “blatant violation” of her constitutional rights that “resulted in significant and lasting harm.”

Natalie suffered through a shocking display of what can occur when police power is unchecked. Natalie was humiliated and degraded as a result of the police officer’s actions,” her attorney Dean Malone told local news station WOAI in March 2018. “We intend to seek full damages available under the law and look forward to presenting Natalie’s horrible experience to a jury.”

In a surprise twist to Simm’s case, however, city lawyers offered $205,000 to Simms

The city settled the case before it could go to trial.

“We evaluate cases and look for potential resolutions without the necessity of proceeding to trial.  We were able to resolve this matter with this proposed settlement and believe it to be in the best interest of all involved,” said City Attorney Andy Segovia.

In the wake of the incident, the city nor the police department has issued any sort of apology.

In the wake of the incident, Wilson, who retired in May 2017, stood by the way she searched Simms. “It was really nasty, but I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything in there,” she told another detective, according to court records. She claimed she needed to conduct the search because “you don’t know what they have. I mean, they stick all kinds of stuff.”

Dilan Cruz Becomes A Symbol Of Colombia’s Protest Movement After He Was Shot Dead By Police

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Dilan Cruz Becomes A Symbol Of Colombia’s Protest Movement After He Was Shot Dead By Police

RCN Radio Bogota

As Colombians keep protesting the government of Ivan Duque, tensions are mounting due to the increasingly aggressive tactics being used by the police. The political climate in South America is extremely polirized at the moment, with waves of protests turning violent in Chile, Bolivia and now Colombia, where the Duque government is facing stern challenges that have led to unprecedented measures such as a curfew in the capital city of Bogota.

 Duque has at least admitted that the country has to enter a “national conversation”. But, at the same time, the conservative president has called for the “deployment of joint patrols of police and army in the most critical places”. Protesters argue that you can’t have both: you either enter a conversation or deploy the full force of the State. Multiple injuries and deaths have been reported. But the recent death of one Dilan Cruz is a momentum shifting event. 

The anti-government protests are being led by unions and student groups.

Credit: RCN Radio

Tens of thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of Bogota for the past week. According to DW, anti-government protests “are centered on discontent with Duque’s conservative government — a key ally of the United States, rumors of economic reforms, and what protesters say is a lack of government action to stop corruption and the murder of human rights activists”. Colombia has traditionally been a very divided country when it comes to the right/left ideological divide. The protests might have righteous motives, but is is hard to contain a movement.

As Reuters reports: “Marches have attracted thousands of peaceful demonstrators, but last Thursday and Friday were also marred by the destruction of mass transit stations, the use of tear gas, curfews in Cali and Bogota and the deaths of three people in connection with alleged looting”. Things might be getting worse before they get better as negotiations have been slow and sterile.

As CE Noticias Financieras reports: “Talks between the National Paro Committee and the government are stalled because unions demand exclusive negotiation and refuse to be part of a dialogue with employers and guilds that Duque convened as part of a “Great Conversation National””. 

A protester called Dilan Cruz has died after being hit with a police projectile.

As the protests led a fifth day on November 26, an activist lay in agony after being hit with a police missile. The protests intensified then, and have reached new proportions after Cruz died. Police tactics have been judged as way too harsh and disproportionate to the nature of the demonstrations. For example, the authorities used tear gas to disperse a crowd while the national anthem was being sung in front of the central bank headquarters. 

Remember his name: Dilan Cruz. He has become a symbol of the protest movement in Colombia.

Dilan Cruz grabbed a tear gas canister and threw it back at the police. Seconds later a shot was heard and he lay on the ground amidst screams from fellow protesters. He spent two days in hospital but died from the bullet he received in the head, according to reports from BBC. Dilan was only 18-years-old and had graduated from high school in the public institution Colegio Ricaurte the same day on which he died (talk about a cruel twist of fate). There have been dozens of reports of police brutality during these tense days in Colombia, but Dilan has become the flag of the movement. 

“Dilan vive, Dilan vive” is the new protest battle cry… 

Dilan’s classmates led protests towards the hospital where he died. With cries of “Dilan lives, Dilan lives” they denounced the human rights violations that activists have been subject to before and during the protests. On the corner of 19 and 4, which is generally a chaotic area of the capital city, there are memorials including candles, posters and graffiti. Dilan’s death also lead to a national strike. 

President Duque has extended his condolences… yes, really.

The president tweeted a message to the victim’s mother, grandfather and sisters. He also promised that an investigation would be launched to clarify the incident. However, some conservative voices have already started victim blaming, saying that since Dilan was a minor he should have been at home, and that the blame lays with his parents. 

Dilan will live forever as an icon of the protest movements.

Credit: somos_ugc / Instagram

Every movement or revolution has an icon. Dilan Cruz has become a martyr and his name will always be associated with social struggle and a watershed moment in which violence escalated and the world started to turn its eyes to 2019 Colombia and its many injustices, but also its voices of hope. 

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

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

_dilan88_ / Instagram

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