“Helmets” Document Student Protests in Chile
This summer in Chile a group of volunteers has gained notoriety for their documentation of the illegal police activity demonstrated in student protests across the country. The group, which calls itself the “helmets” (members wear blue or white helmets when covering protests), consists of “ordinary citizens of all ages and walks of life, professionals and blue-collar workers, university students and retirees, some well into their 70s, who see their work as crucial,” according to the New York Times. Last year saw the beginning of heavy student protesting in Chile, as many had grown dissatisfied with state of the country’s higher education system. Writes the Times:
When students mobilized last year to demand an overhaul of the country’s higher education system and a commitment to free, equal and high-quality public education, the official response was more restrained. This year the government has declared zero tolerance for school occupations, and has called in special police forces to clear the buildings. Hours or days later, the same schools are taken over again, and the police return, a cat-and-mouse pattern that often leads to violent clashes and hundreds of arrests. Meanwhile, small groups of radicalized students set up barricades, throw rocks and damage public and private property.
Recently, some of the volunteers have recorded immense violations of human rights by the police, including the sexual humiliation of volunteers. While these terrible acts still occur, both protestors and police know that the “helmets” are there to document everything. Though they cannot fight back physically, they are using an even stronger weapon-journalism-to combat this egregious behavior.
Read the whole article here.