Front-page article in today’s NY TImes,
Police in Puerto Rico Are Accused of Abuses in Justice Dept. Report
WASHINGTON — In a blistering condemnation of the second-largest police force in the United States, the Justice Department is accusing the Puerto Rico Police Department of a “profound” and “longstanding” pattern of civil rights violations and other illegal practices that have left it “broken in a number of critical and fundamental respects.”
In a 116-page report that officials intend to make public Thursday, the civil rights division of the Justice Department accused the Puerto Rico Police Department of systematically “using force, including deadly force, when no force or lesser force was called for,” unnecessarily injuring hundreds of people and killing “numerous others.”
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, says the 17,000-officer force routinely conducts illegal searches and seizures without warrants. It accuses the force of a pattern of attacking nonviolent protesters and journalists in a manner “designed to suppress the exercise of protected First Amendment rights.”
This also has political overtones, as
The Justice Department began the investigation in part due to complaints by the American Civil Liberties Union.
I must clarify that my uncle, now deceased, was a police officer in Puerto Rico, so I am aware of the pressures police officers face in an overpopulated island, as they are both understaffed and under huge pressures from the ongoing drug traffic in and through the island.
And my inner skeptic also surfaces when reading about “killing numerous others”. How many?
There’s also the political repercussions, which come to mind when finding this article on the front page of the New York Times:
Recently the Justice Department has been notoriously biased in its hiring. Luis Fortuño, the current governor, is a staunch Republican, who has implemented drastic steps to improve the local economy – with Puerto Rico’s economy rating higher than that of Spain, Brazil, or Mexico’s. In fact, of all Latin American economies, only Chile is rated more competitive than Puerto Rico’s.
It wouldn’t be the first time a damning human rights report could be used for political reasons.