Washington, DC -- Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued this statement today concerning the actions of the Puerto Rico Riot Squad in response to a non-violent protest led by university students at Puerto Rico's Capitol in San Juan on Wednesday, June 30.
"The right of individuals to openly and freely voice their dissent forms the foundation of a responsive, vibrant democracy. As working men and women throughout the island of Puerto Rico have shared their first-hand reports of the events that took place at the Capitol this week, we are deeply concerned that the actions of the police, and of the Puerto Rican government, were driven to stifle and repress the voices of these university students and citizens.
"What is even more troubling - the government's questionable use of force and the intimidation of citizens appear to be escalating on the island and no one is immune: journalists, gay men and women, our union brothers and sisters, and activists from every field who seek to make their voices heard and improve their lives and their communities.
"I am certain that many members of the U.S. media and many leaders in Washington are completely unaware of the disturbing events that took place Wednesday. I pledge that the more than 2.2 million members of SEIU, many of whom live in or were born in Puerto Rico, will change this by speaking out on behalf of the rights of the citizens of this island and calling upon their elected representative in Congress to fully investigate the events of June 30.
"When the lives and livelihoods of the people of Vieques were threatened by U.S. Naval bombing, SEIU members throughout Puerto Rico, the U.S. and Canada helped share their struggle to the international community. Today, we stand ready to do this once again and join our hearts and voices in service to the people of Puerto Rico.
"To the university students and their families, and to all who are fighting for democracy and equality for all the citizens of Puerto Rico, know that we stand with you, and you are not alone."