‘luma, Get Out’: Puerto Ricans Clash With Police In Protests Against Power Company

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Carlos Edill Berríos Polanco, an independent journalist and regular contributor for Latino Rebels, crouches in hurting afterward existence sprayed in the confront by police force while roofing a protest in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Baronial 25, 2022. (Carlos Edill Berríos Polanco/Latino Rebels)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
 After a cord of blackouts that left many without electricity throughout August, Puerto Ricans came together on Th to protest LUMA Energy and Gov. Pedro Pierluisi in Old San Juan. The protest ended with the streets thick with tear gas and multiple journalists and protesters wounded by police.

More a g protesters showed up in Onetime San Juan to protestation LUMA Energy, the public-individual American-Canadian visitor that controls the distribution and maintenance of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. Like most Puerto Rican protests, the atmosphere was more cake party than directly activity for most of the day. Multiple speakers, ranging from labor leaders to politicians, addressed the oversupply and reaffirmed their commitment to making LUMA go out the archipelago.

Activist and stuntman Alberto de Jesús Mercado, better known as “Tito Kayak,” told the crowd he was going to cantankerous the police barricade and get himself peacefully arrested. When he crossed, he was

taken down past three police officers
.

De Jesús Mercado’s abort momentarily dampened the mood of the crowd, but protesters soon returned to dancing and singing for the residue of the twenty-four hour period until night cruel.

At approximately nine p.g., after the audio trucks had left, protesters began pushing on the mostly permanent barricade police had ready since at to the lowest degree the anti-Rossello protests in the summer of 2019. Police officers, who had tripled the corporeality of personnel at their riot line since the sound trucks had left, responded by launching a wave of pepper spray at both protesters and journalists who were roofing the interaction from the sidelines.

A police officeholder shot directly at me while I wore my laminated press pass and a helmet that read “Press” in big cake letters across the front. In the video below, you tin can see a police officer

shoot directly at my phone and face
.

The incident

left me blind and on the ground

for a few minutes before activists poured h2o over my eyes.

At least four other journalists were also attacked by police force throughout the night, including NotiCel’due south Juan R. Costa, who was hit past tear gas, and one pupil announcer from Pulso Estudiantil, who was hitting past a police baton.

Rep. Mariana Nogales of the Citizen’southward Victory Move was

shoved by a police officer

while filming the riot line.

As the night progressed, riot police moved out from their original barricade line,
roofing the street in thick clouds of smoke and tear gas
, all while pushing protesters out of the center of Sometime San Juan.

When the police expanded their perimeter, many people were trapped behind the riot line. These included peaceful protesters, residents of Erstwhile San Juan, and diners eating at nearby restaurants. Some

holed themselves up within restaurants

to avoid the riot munitions. Others were

herded by the riot line

with their hands up.

Protesters created

makeshift barricades

to impede police force from moving forrard and arresting them.

According to a constabulary press briefing earlier on Fri,

four people were arrested

at the protestation. Two of them will be charged for “attacking a police officer.”

Police force Col. Antonio López Figueroa claims protesters threw bottles and rocks at police —which is truthful— simply added that the protesters besides launched a “series of chemicals.” That merits has not been independently verified so far.

The only “series of chemicals” deployed throughout the dark were those issued by the police themselves in the form of tear gas and pepper spray. These munitions, oftentimes chosen “not-lethal” by law, are actually

simply “less-lethal” than traditional firearms
, and take been

banned in warfare since 1925

under the Geneva Conventions.

Even when Puerto Rico law used impact munitions, such as the Defense Technology Stinger Safety Brawl, they
shot straight at protesters’ eye mass

instead of at the lower torso, which is the method suggested by

Geneva Guidelines
. Many critics of riot munitions besides recommend “skip-shooting,” or shooting at the ground to let the projectile to tedious down and thereby crusade less bodily harm. Only the Geneva Guidelines also recommend against this method as well.

Ane protester claims they were striking directly in the confront multiple times. Another, an elderly man who was playing his trumpet in the crowd, was

hit multiple times in the leg and covered in tear gas
 and had to exist taken to the infirmary via ambulance.

Police claim they are “investigating” their use of force on both journalists and protesters.

Gov. Pierluisi gave “his respect” to protesters who peacefully protested during the early afternoon, but condemned those that “looked to create chaos.”

Gov. Pierluisi is among the many politicians who recently changed their stance on LUMA Free energy later on a series of blackouts this twelvemonth enraged many Puerto Ricans.

“LUMA, go to hell!” Puerto Rican music artist Bad Bunny told the crowd at a concert in San Juan at the end of July. “Pierluisi, all the other c–ksuckers, get to hell!”

“I’m not satisfied with LUMA’southward functioning,” Pierluisi said in a
 statement on Baronial eighteen
. He had previously minimized the blackouts and repeatedly defended LUMA Free energy, the visitor he initially contracted to take control of the island’s electricity distribution system.

LUMA Free energy, a consortium made up of Quanta Services and ATCO, assumed management of Puerto Rico’southward electrical filigree last year. Since then, Puerto Ricans have experienced

a string of blackouts

that has earned the visitor widespread resentment among Puerto Ricans both on the island and in the Diaspora.

While LUMA says that blackouts have improved since they took over distribution, maintenance, and repair of the electrical filigree, a

recent report

by the Puerto Rico Free energy Agency (PREB) shows that blackouts have actually worsened.

The electricity crisis has left Puerto Ricans in limbo, not knowing when and where the next blackout will occur. The blackouts take damaged appliances that in turn have sparked fires that destroyed homes. A family recently lost their home after a generator exploded equally they attempted to outset it during a blackout. Multiple hospitals have been left in darkness after their generators malfunctioned.

Meanwhile, the Office of Public-Individual Partnerships, which controls LUMA’s contract, has said that the visitor is “not breaching” its contract even with its lack of maintenance.

However, every protester Latino Rebels spoke to after police force began deploying riot munitions assured me that they would return for as long every bit it takes to force LUMA out.

There is some other protestation scheduled for after on Fri and on Saturday.

***


Carlos Edill Berríos Polanco
is a freelance journalist, more often than not focused on civil unrest, extremism, and political abuse. Twitter: @Vaquero2XL


Source: https://www.latinorebels.com/2022/08/26/puertoricoprotestluma/