Target: President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina
Goal: Demand justice for the medical student who was killed by police during protests in the Dominican Republic.
During recent protests at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, the state university in the Dominican Republic, police opened fire on protesters. Police started shooting into the crowd when, allegedly, a couple of men in masks started throwing rocks at them. The police shot and killed 21-year-old medical student William Warden Florian Ramirez. Witnesses say that Florian Ramirez was not even participating in the protests when he was shot, but was just walking out of the university. Witnesses say that after the police shot Florian Ramirez, they shot tear gas into the crowd to disperse those who were trying to aid him. Three other students and a bus worker were injured during the clash.
The Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, UASD, is the country’s biggest university with 180,000 students. It is also the oldest university in the country and the first university in the Americas. The protests that were taking place on the campus were a part of a national movement against a new fiscal reform that was just approved by congress. One reporter who was filming the police said that the officer who shot Florian Ramirez could not contain his excitement of hitting a protester. The officer was young and wore a mask covering his face.
After the conflict, a spokesperson said the police were questioning 19 police officials as part of the investigation into the shooting. President Danilo Medina met with the police chief the following day and said that the death of Florian Ramirez will not go unpunished. University officials shut down the campus for a couple of days following the protest. The day after Florian Ramirez’s death, dozens of students demonstrated outside of police headquarters. They held signs reading ‘Police don’t kill me’ and ‘Why kill me if I decide your rights?’ The demonstrators said that they were demanding that Florian Ramirez’s death does not go unpunished, that the police show up to future protests with no firearms, and that the investigation into the killing be led by prosecutors, not police.
The police in the Dominican Republic are infamous for their corruption, abuse and unlawful killings. In fact, this is not the first death by police at a protest this year. In a report, Amnesty International says the incident at the university highlights the need for comprehensive police reform. The government needs to ensure that these unlawful killings no longer happen and ensure that citizens will be safe when gathering to protest. Sign the petition to demand justice for the killing of Florian Ramirez and to demand that police reform take place immediately.
Dear President Medina,
As you are well aware, the National Police killed a student at UASD recently when he was leaving his class. The 21-year-old medical student was the victim of senseless violence by the police who opened fire into a crowd of student protesters. Video of the police shooting into the crowd shows their enthusiasm for hitting a student and their excitement over shooting at defenseless students. This catastrophe highlights the desperate need for comprehensive police reform in the Dominican Republic.
I am writing today to urge you to look into the corruption of the Dominican police. Action needs to be taken to eliminate police corruption and ensure that the first priority of all police is the safety of the citizens. Urgent measures need to be taken to make certain that no more unlawful killings happen and that the police department’s approach to protests changes. The Dominican citizens have a right to express their voices and peacefully protest. The police should never use excessive force during protests and weapons should only be used as a last resort.
I am also writing to demand justice for the killing of William Warden Florian Ramirez. An investigation headed by prosecutors needs to take place. All of the police officers connected to the killing need to be arrested and charged. This is the time, as President, to send a clear message that unlawful killings, like this, will not be allowed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: matense.net