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NAACP Legal Defense Fund and LatinoJustice Issue Joint Statement on Puerto Rico Police Response to May Day Protests

5/04/18

Read a pdf of our statement here.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund and LatinoJustice Issue Joint Statement on Puerto Rico Police Response to May Day Protests

Earlier this week, Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) officers responded to a May Day march to protest school closures and austerity measures by using tear gas and violence against demonstrators, press, and legal observers. According to the ACLU of Puerto Rico, the PRPD response continued after the conclusion of the protests with warrantless arrests of demonstrators in their homes and dorm rooms. Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), and Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel for LatinoJustice, issued the following joint statement in response:

“We’re appalled by the images of police violence that continue to emerge from this week’s May Day protests in San Juan. The actions of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) were not only unacceptable, but particularly unnerving given that the department is five years into a federal consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to reform its policing practices. We urge the parties to the consent decree – both in Puerto Rico and in Washington – to take seriously their legal obligations outlined in the agreement and to fully cooperate with the recently ordered assessment of the PRPD’s conduct. We also call on U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodriguez-Velez of the District of Puerto Rico to proactively initiate her own investigation of the PRPD’s actions at this week’s protests. The people of Puerto Rico deserve a swift and thorough response to the police violence that consumed their streets.”

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF, originally established as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) in 1972, is one of the foremost national nonprofit civil rights legal defense and education funds working to advance, promote, and protect the legal rights of Latina/os throughout the nation. Our work is focused on addressing systemic discrimination and ensuring equal access to justice in the advancement of voting rights, housing rights, educational equity, immigrant rights, language access rights, employment rights, workplace justice, and the discriminatory effects of the criminal justice system, seeking to address all forms of discriminatory bias that adversely impact Latina/os.