Lucía Ruiz Cedeño was tear gassed by Puerto Rican police during a May Day protest.
“We looked back and everybody was running, crying, screaming at us to run.” she explained. “Your face starts to itch, you start crying, you have to run, you can’t really breathe well.”
Lucía was protesting the closing of 280 public schools in Puerto Rico at the May Day protest with her mom and siblings. They rallied alongside thousands of people in La Milla de Oro, Puerto Rico’s Finance Center, to raise their voices against school funding cuts, tuition hikes, and other austerity measures in a newly approved fiscal plan.
According to the police, some demonstrators threw objects at them, so pepper spray and tear gas were sprayed into the crowds, which included children, senior citizens, journalists, and peaceful protestors.
Lucía and her family were leaving the protest when they were sprayed.
“I though the police were people that helped Puerto Rico but now I see that most of them just care about money,” she stated.
At least 13 people were arrested and 15 police officers were injured. The ACLU or Puerto Rico condemned the use of force and arrests, stating on Twitter, “PRPD disproportioned violence against demonstrators, reporters and Legal Observers is followed by warrantless arrests of protesters in their homes and university dorms. PRPD has proven that it can still outdo itself. Independent Civilian Oversight is needed NOW! @aclu @amnestyusa.”