14ymedio, Havana, 12 June 2020 — The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and the rapper Maykel Castillo were released around seven in the morning on Friday after spending all night in police custody, according to reports on social networks.
Alcántara and Castillo were beaten by the police while handcuffed in an official vehicle, and they published photographs with injuries to their legs and arms. They say that those responsible for the beating were about ten police officers from the Cuba y Chacón unit in Havana, where they were taken on Thursday.
“Maykel was eating some bread on the doorstep of his house and I, who had gone to the corner for a moment, arrived and saw him debating with the police because they wanted to take him away,” Alcántara told 14ymedio.
“The day before, by the way, that same policeman had told him twice to put his shirt on. I told the policeman that Maykel had his facemask, not to take him, but they didn’t understand. That’s when I start filming. The policeman tells me that I can’t film it and that I have to go with them, also arrested.”
The artist continues: “In the patrol car I tell the police that he is a racist, a dictator, and when we get to the parking lot of the unit they leave us in the car. At that point Maykel’s phone starts ringing. One of the policemen says that we can’t touch the cell phone and he opens the door where Maykel is and begins to hit him.
“The moment I see that, there is another one who comes and opens my door and they start hitting me with a tonfa. He grabs me by the neck, they hit me on the head, they took me out of the car and threw me to the ground to hit me more. A little horse [motorized officer] comes and lifts me by the handcuffs, takes me out of there and takes me to the station.”
According to his account, they were in the dungeon part of the night until they were taken out for an interrogation with the State Security: “There we received the usual threats: prison. They told us that they would accuse us of an attack and that there would be a trial. There they also took my statement about what happened, took our fingerprints and took photos of the wounds.”
Alcántara says that they were also taken to the Tomás Romay polyclinic: “A doctor saw us there and filled out an injury certificate but we never got a copy of it. We asked for it but they told us no, that it would stay in the unit. At seven in the morning they let us go.”
Anamely Ramos, a curator and teacher expelled from the Superior Institute of Art, denounced to this newspaper that when she tried to enter the unit to get news of Alcántara and Maykel Castillo, an officer told her that she could not enter.
“I had the permission of the guard who was outside who had told me that I could enter but at the door of the unit an agent said no. At that moment, a police officer came and told me that I could not pass, that they had already explained everything to me. He pushed me, other policemen came, women and men, and one of them threw me against the floor and put me in a headlock to immobilize me. I had gone there because I had authorization and had said that I only wanted to clear up some doubts I had about the arrest of the artists. Finally, the officer in charge came and I was able to speak to him,” she explained.
Ramos also details that while she was outside the Cuba y Chacón police station she saw how some officers went out to photograph the patrol in which the artists had been taken to the unit and that “he did not have a scratch.” Both Ramos and Alcántara assure that they will file a complaint with the authorities about the actions of the police.
This week Alcantara called for a collective action to keep a minute of silence in solidarity with anti-racist protests in the United States after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police became known.
The artist was released on March 13 after 12 days of arrest. The authorities announced a trial against him for “outrage against the national symbols”, but the oral hearing was canceled. Likewise, they accused him of “damage” to the property, but this case was shelved by the authorities until “new elements allow it to be carried out.“
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