Dominican police officers allegedly raided a popular LGBT plaza on Sunday, arresting 20 people and then asking for monetary bribes for their release, mitú reports.
“Some men immediately bribed the police officers, so they were let go,” a witness said. “My partner and I didn’t have much money on us, so we were paraded around the city on the back of the truck and then taken to the police station.”
According to the man, who remains anonymous, once locked up, they were not charged with a crime but were still not allowed to make phone calls. The only detainees to be released that evening allegedly paid bribes or called in favors.
The accounts are being corroborated by LGBT rights organizations in the country.
“The police officers did this without the permission of the prosecutors, you can tell because the moment the city prosecutors office woke up on Monday morning, everyone got released,” Guillermo Peña, the director of Dominican human rights group COIN, who was at the police station, told the news site.
“The National Police are a predatory organization,” Yimbret Telemín, an LGBTQ activist who was also at the station, added. “They get paid nothing in wages, so they do these arbitrary sweeps as a way of making a quick buck. You get out of jail quickly if you pay, or if you know somebody. This is not the first dragnet that has targeted members of our community.”
A spokesperson for the Dominican National Police Force declined to comment.
Part of the roundup was captured in a now-viral video from a local. Watch above!