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Puerto Ricans bring out a guillotine and trans Pride flags as hundreds join Black Lives Matter protest

Josh Milton June 4, 2020
Hundreds of people packed the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, to join the Black Lives Matter protest. (Screen capture via Twitter)

Hundreds of people packed the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, to join the Black Lives Matter protest. (Screen capture via Twitter)

Housebound people in Puerto Rico may have looked out of their pastel-splashed houses to see a rather remarkable sight from their balconies – Black Lives Matter demonstrators hauling a guillotine and a trans Pride flag catching the sun as it’s waved.

The message the hundreds of the islands residents had to Puerto Rico authorities was clear Tuesday morning (June 2) – racially discriminatory policing must come to an end.

It was an all too familiar sight for Old San Juan locals, where, last year, thousands thronged the city streets to protest against then-governor Richardo Rosselló. The lawmaker’s homophobic exchanges with top aids saw LGBT+ people unite together to call for his resignation.

This weeks’ protesters appeared to capture that tenacity once again, with trans Pride flans swung by Black Lives Matter demonstrators – touching off a brutal wave of killings of trans citizens in 2020.

Protesters paralysed the tight streets of the city as they surrounded the mansion of governor Wanda Vázquez.

As nightfall ended, they ignored the island’s enforced curfew and refused to decamp, frustrated demonstrators chanted loudly, demanding accountability to white supremacy sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

Tucked in the throes of Monday’s protest in Loíza, where more than 60 per cent of residents identify as Black, protests carried on even as police forces pulsed and pushed against then, the Daily Kos reported.

Five trans people killed in Puerto Rico in 2020 alone. 

The deaths of trans women Layla Peláez and Serena Angelique Velázquez in April ripped across the LGBT+ community, outraging activists who are steadily becoming numb to the relentless violence against trans people in Puerto Rico.

So far this year at least five trans people have been killed in the US territory.

Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 31, was killed in a correctional centre on April 13. Her death was not reported until April 27 by the Human Rights Campaign.

Police are investigating the murder of the trans woman Alexa Luciano Ruiz in Puerto Rico
Police are investigating the murder of the trans woman Alexa Luciano Ruiz in Puerto Rico. (Twitter/@DavidBegnaud)

Yampi Méndez Arocho, a 19-year-old trans man, was killed in Moca on March 5.

In February, trans homeless woman Alexa Negrón Luciano, a well-known figure on Puerto Rican social media, was shot to death. Her final moments, mercilessly recorded on social media, capture the apparent impunity anti-LGBT+ attackers feel in their crimes.

Many of the cases echoed the brutal murder of gender-nonconforming teen Jorge Steven, found decapitated, dismembered and set ablaze in 2009.

Puerto Rican activists have desperately warned: “They are hunting us.”

“There is no longer any doubt, this is an epidemic of anti-LGBT+ violence,” said Serrano.

 

More: black lives matter, Puerto Rico, Trans, Wanda Vázquez

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