More Arrests at Univ. of Puerto Rico
As many as 10 students have been arrested at the University of Puerto Rico, the latest in an ongoing struggle between activists and officials over an $800 special fee.
Students were taken into custody for bringing fliers inside of the Rio Piedras campus, a violation of university rules, reported El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican daily newspaper.
Col. Sergio Rubín, a police official from the San Juan region, said any person who enters a classroom with the intention to interrupt is a crime, the paper reported.
"The information we have is that they were interrupting the classes," he said. "We arrived there because of a complaint by the university security."
The arrests come a day after students allegedly committed acts of vandalism – allegedly breaking glass and throwing smoke bombs – throughout the university. No arrests were made on Tuesday.
The alleged vandalism was widely condemned, but student leaders from the General Council of Students (or CGE by its Spanish-language initials) distanced themselves from the violence.
In a statement, the group said the unauthorized disruption "was not supported by CGE" and "doesn't represent the sentiment" of their struggle, Primera Hora, another Puerto Rican newspaper, reported.
Further, the statement said the vandalism "presents a negative image that does not support this movement."
Still, student leaders vehemently opposed the arrests for peacefully entering the university with fliers – an act they carried out only after receiving permission from sympathetic professors. They weren't trying to provoke police officers to arrest them, leaders told Primera Hora.
Giovanni Roberto, a student leader who spoke to Primera Hora, added that police used excessive force.
The clashes Tuesday and Wednesday come just weeks after 17 protesters were detained at different campuses at the university. A similar strike in April over the $800 fee and other issues paralyzed the university for nearly two months.
University officials have maintained that they imposed the fee to help close a gaping budget deficit. Its budget had already been slashed from $9 billion to $7 billion a year.
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