Things That Matter

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

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. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti Announces Budget Cut To LAPD But Critics Say It Isn’t Near Enough

Things That Matter

Mayor Eric Garcetti Announces Budget Cut To LAPD But Critics Say It Isn’t Near Enough

Mayor Eric Garcetti / Facebook

Days of protests and civil unrest have rocked Los Angeles and other major American cities. People are angry that police have continued to kill unarmed Black people with little impunity. George Floyd’s death reignited that anger and that hurt that has been bubbling for years. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a $150 million budget cut from LAPD but the numbers suggest the gesture is far from enough.

People across the country are protesting against the police brutality that has become commonplace in the U.S.

The above tweet lays out around 200 videos showing the blatant use of excessive force against peaceful protesters by various police departments across the nation. The videos show protesters with hands up chanting things like “This is what democracy looks like” before police officers fire rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds. There have been GoFundMe accounts set up to help protesters who have been maimed by rubber bullets pay for their medical bills after losing their eyes or being shot in the face.

The unrest has left governors, mayors, and the president of the United States unsettled and they are beginning to deliver on protesters’ demands.

Mayor Garcetti gives briefing regarding demonstrations for racial justice, June 3

Tonight I’m talking about needed changes to policing.

Posted by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference Wednesday evening announcing changes to policing practices. LAPD has been criticized throughout the Black Lives Matter protests of excessive force against peaceful protesters demanding justice.

Some of the changes to LAPD announced by Mayor Garcetti include a moratorium on adding names to CalGang, hiring an independent prosecutor to prosecute police officers accused of misconduct, and cutting $100 to $150 million from the LAPD budget to reinvest into Black communities.

LAPD currently uses $1.86 billion of the city’s allocated budget.

LA’s annual budget is $10.5 billion meaning that LAPD makes up almost 18 percent of the total allocated budget. However, LAPD eats up 54 percent of LA’s “unrestricted” general funds revenue. The “unrestricted” general funds revenue is created through taxes that have not been earmarked for specific projects voted on by LA residents. According to the LA Times, the “unrestricted” general funds revenue boosts LAPD’s total annual budget from LA to $3 billion.

LAPD was set to receive an increase of more than $120 million to the budget.

The budget was approved by default because the City Council failed to vote on the matter by the deadline. The budget is set to go into effect on July 1st. The increase to the LAPD budget comes at a time when every other department in the LA government is taking budget cuts due to deficits.

The announcement by Mayor Garcetti is facing criticism because it isn’t enough for the protesters. The budget slashes to LAPD are in reality the city council and mayor’s office not allowing for the approved budget increase to take effect for LAPD.

People in favor of cutting the LAPD budget to reinvest in communities of color are pointing out that a lot of money goes to LAPD to pay settlements.

LAPD has had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements from lawsuits against the department. An LA Times analysis found that in 2017, LAPD paid more than $200 million in total legal costs, less than the proposed budget cuts announced by Mayor Garcetti.

The People’s Budget 2020-2021 has gained more popularity as people have taken to the streets to protest against the police. The People’s Budget took a look at the “unrestricted” general funds revenue and reallocated the money to programs and needs of the city. Under the People’s Budget, which was worked on by 10,000 people, LAPD would receive 5.7 percent of the funds as opposed to the 54 percent they currently receive.

READ: Protestors In Puerto Rico Bringing A Guillotine To The Governor’s Mansion Is Just Another Reminder Boricua’s Don’t Mess Around

Protestors In Puerto Rico Bringing A Guillotine To The Governor’s Mansion Is Just Another Reminder Boricua’s Don’t Mess Around

Things That Matter

Protestors In Puerto Rico Bringing A Guillotine To The Governor’s Mansion Is Just Another Reminder Boricua’s Don’t Mess Around

@JoshuaPotash / Twitter

Like every other Latin American country and state, Puerto Rico has a long and torrid history with racism.

On the island, hundreds of protestors are now also taking place in the demonstrations that were sparked by the death of African-American police victim, George Floyd. In an effort to combat racism, protesters marched outside the mansion of Governor Wanda Vázquez in Old San Juan. Meanwhile, they chanted and demanded justice for George Floyd while also demanding change in Puerto Rico.

Ignoring the island’s coronavirus curfew, protestors took to the street and protested with all sorts of messages, but the one that truly caught those of us watching was the moment when protestors brought in a guillotine.

As anger and frustration continued to fuel the demonstrations, protestors brought in a massive guillotine to the Governor’s Mansion.

Shariana Ferrer-Núñez, a member of Puerto Rico’s Feminist Collective Under Construction, told Democracy Now that “We recognize that we must dismantle white supremacy, we must dismantle a racialized system, we must eradicate anti-Black violence” about the demonstrations.

According to the blog Orlando Latina, “For Puerto Rico’s elected class, the guillotine ought to be a terrifying symbol, as indeed it was during the French Revolution. But I doubt it, for the political class is a self-serving, self-dealing “firm” that has become unmoored from the people on the ground and oblivious to its needs.”

Here’s hoping this symbol hits elected officials in Puerto Rico enough to attempt to make change.