A man was arrested this Saturday, October 1, for raising a Puerto Rican flag during a music concert in San Juan, PR.
The arrest was made in front of the mayor of San Juan and 20,000 people, who were listening to a band named Cultura Profética in Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The arrest shocked everyone – especially the musicians onstage – since the flag-raising had been choreographed as part of their act. You can see the video here…
Two minutes before the arrest Willy Rodriguez, the lead vocalist of Cultura Profética, announced to the entire stadium crowd, “for our next song we will raise the flag of Puerto Rico.”
A man named Tito Kayak then proceeded to raise the Puerto Rican flag, to a tumultuous ovation from the stadium crowd of 20,000.
Moments later, Kayak was arrested for raising the flag.
Salvador Tió, a prominent civil rights attorney who has represented Kayak on multiple occasions, stated that, “I fully support the action in Hiram Bithorn Stadium. It was not even civil disobedience. It was conceptual art.”
In a statement of solidarity, attorney Tió added that “I applaud Tito Kayak and Cultura Profética for making use of their platform – a sold-out concert with 20,000 people – to show the world that the US is imposing a dictatorship on Puerto Rico, and claiming that we owe money to a capitalist cabal in Wall Street.”
The Return of Public Law 53
In 1948, shortly after Pedro Albizu Campos had returned from imprisonment and exile, Public Law 53 was passed to silence him and his Nationalist Party. This law made it a felony – punishable by ten years in jail – to say one word against the US, or one word in favor of independence, or to own a Puerto Rican flag. For this reason it was called La Ley de la Mordaza…the Law of the Muzzle.
The arrest of Tito Kayak sets a dangerous precedent.
It suggests the return of Law 53 to the island, in order to minimize protests against PROMESA and the Financial Control Board. It also suggests the criminalization of free speech, and the suspension of First Amendment rights in Puerto Rico.
This is especially apparent, because the arrest was not made by some “hot-headed” or rookie police officers. The Police Commissioner of Puerto Rico – Guillermo Calixto – was present at Hiram Bithorn Stadium when Tito Kayak was arrested.
It was Police Commissioner Calixto who ordered his arrest.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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