On May 1, Puerto Ricans came out in droves to protest the US Fiscal Control Board and the austerity measures it has enacted. The May Day protests were mostly peaceful, but police used tear gas and pepper spray on protestors. While it’s true that some demonstrators launched projectiles, the use of tear gas has been widely condemned. Puerto Ricans shared videos of clouds of tear gas enveloping the streets, as adults and children ran for their lives and struggled to breathe. In the aftermath of the scary moment, a 9-year-old girl has delivered a powerful message to the police via video.
Lucía Ruiz Cedeño attended the Milla de Oro protests with her family because she wanted to take a stand against the closure of 283 public schools on the island. Lucía and her family were leaving the protest when they were sprayed. “We looked back and everybody was running, crying, screaming at us to run,” she said in a video. “Your face starts to itch, you start crying, you have to run, you can’t really breathe well… I thought the police were people that helped Puerto Rico, but now I see that most of them just care about money and they don’t care about children, they don’t represent us, and don’t love us.”
Though the experience is enough to traumatize the young girl, she vows to continue her activism. “I’m not letting them stop me, because I’ve had a horrible year, and I want police to know if they’re watching – You can throw pepper gas at us, but I’m going to the next protest.”
Watch her video below.