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Riot Police Seize the University of Puerto Rico

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After midnight on Thursday, December 9, 2010 the Puerto Rican police force, including SWAT forces broke into the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), as well as other campuses. For more information, check out student-run news at www.radiohuelga.com, www.rojogallito.com or for English language news, www.dailysunpr.org.

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After midnight on Thursday, December 9, 2010 the Puerto Rican police force, including SWAT forces broke into the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), as well as other campuses. In multiple police cars, jeeps, and passenger vans, various branches of the police force, including the SWAT team in full riot gear entered the campus, after being prohibited from doing so for over 31 years. Puerto Rico’s ultra-conservative governor, Luis Fortuño, and his political ally the UPR president Jose Ramon de la Torre broke the non-confrontation policy even after the campus dean said that police would not enter after striking students left. In doing so, government and university officials not only violated the autonomy of the university, but also the long-standing policy of non-confrontation between the police and students. The policy came after police riots and attacks on students left a wake of serious injuries and even death in the student uprisings of the 70’s and 80’s. In an 1981 incident students were chased by police gunfire into a dead-end street of Rio Piedras. Since that tragedy the Puerto Rican police have not entered the 11 campuses of the UPR. Thursday, police carrying their firearms entered the university, while other officers filmed students and took close up pictures of protesting students, professors and Amnesty International and Lawyers’ Guild observers. At multiple campuses officers blocked the gates and academic buildings preventing entrance and exit of the university. This decision was unknown to the Board of Trustees, the Academic Senate, the Student Council and leaders of the student strike. Tonight the police remain inside the campus, and according to government and university officials they will now be a constant presence. Students and professors have said that they will not open or attend classes until police leave, and students still plan to strike indefinitely over the tuition hike beginning on Tuesday, December 12th. For more information, check out student-run news at www.radiohuelga.com, www.rojogallito.com or for English language news, www.dailysunpr.org.