[News] Puerto Rico - Students joined by professors as strike continues
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 16 21:45:31 EST 2010
Students joined by professors as strike continues
A standoff between University of Puerto Rico
students and members of the police Tactical
Operations Division (riot squad) marked the
second day of the strike that has practically
paralyzed all academic and administrative activities in the Río Piedras campus.
The standoff, which lasted over four hours and
covered the streets of Río Piedras, came around 1
p.m. after a group of some 250 students stormed
onto the Natural Sciences building clapping and
chanting slogans along its hallways.
We dont want to study in a military camp
Were on strike, there are no classes, chanted
the students as they gathered at the buildings
central plaza in an effort to interrupt the few classes in session.
Several non-teaching university employees watched
the student protest from a distance, without
joining in, but expressing their support for the students plight.
We all support the students but the
administration has threatened us with dismissal,
said an unidentified university employee about
their presence on campus. Otherwise we would be
marching with them [the students].
A little over 30 minutes later police officers
now stationed on campus warned the demonstrators
they were violating the law and could be
arrested. At the same time, the police requested
the press leave the area. Almost immediately a
contingent of riot policemen approached the area.
The group of students decided to take their
demonstration to the Botanical Garden, where the
UPR central administration is located. The
demonstrating students were closely followed by the riot squad.
As the students approached the Botanical Garden
another group of riot squad came out and assumed
formation in front of the gardens gates. The
students then decided to demonstrate in front of
the gates along 65th Infantry Avenue. Again the
police warned the students that they had to
clear the road. Journalists were also advised to clear the area.
The group of students, who had formed a human
chain, was then surrounded by the squadron coming
from the Botanical Garden and the squadron that
had followed their march there. They opted to
retire towards downtown Río Piedras via Luis
Muñoz Rivera Avenue. But even as the students retreated the police followed.
We are students, we are not criminals, chanted
the students as they marched towards Río Piedras
and several commuters honked their horns to
express their support amid the massive traffic jam.
All of a sudden the police charged against the
group of students, who scattered running through
the back streets of Río Piedras. Some hooded
students responded to the police action throwing stones at them.
The police chased the students along University Avenue towards Ponce de León.
Along the way student Luis Morales was arrested
by members of the riot squad for allegedly taking
down one of the banners that identified the FREE
SPEECH AREA established by university administration.
As the group approached Ponce de León Avenue a
group of university professors formed a human
chain between the students and the police. The
students in turn formed another chain behind their professors.
The riot squad was finally ordered out of the
area after the students retreated to Ponce de León.
The police do not have the authority to
designate where one is to exercise the right to
This is an attack against the civil
liberties of the people, attorney Osvaldo Burgos said.
Burgos is an independent observer from the Puerto Rico Bar Association.
By 5p.m.the students had occupied Ponce de León
Avenue and were blocking traffic. After some
negotiations the students agreed to keep the bus
lane open, but would keep demonstrating on the avenue.
There can be no doubt that this is a successful
We didnt have classes and we controlled
several streets, Student Representation
Committee member Ian Camilo Cintrón said.
We urge the administration to desist from its
intransigence and negotiate. Otherwise, our
demonstration will keep escalating, the student leader warned.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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