BOGOTA, Colombia — Violent clashes erupted in Colombia’s capital after the passing of a man in police custody, together with mad citizens putting fire to city buses, vandalizing police channels, and squaring off with officials in confrontations that killed seven people.
The tide of violence Wednesday erupted over a video demonstrating two officials holding a 43-year-old guy being tasered because he begged them to cease and highlights long-simmering tensions over excessive use of force by authorities.
Authorities said Thursday the 56 police stations were ruined, eight town buses burned off and 175 civilians injured during the unrest, such as 66 struck by bullets.
“That did not even occur during a battle in the worst minutes of the armed conflict,” Mayor Claudia López stated after visiting the wounded in a hospital. “What happened was an indiscriminate, disproportionate, absolutely unjustified assault by a few members of the authorities from the citizens of Bogota.”
The outrage originated from the death of cab driver Javier Ordóñez. Police said they had been called to react to reports of a struggle among a bunch of guys who’d been drinking late into the night in Engativa, a working Bogota neighborhood hard struck from the coronavirus pandemic.
“They turned competitive against law enforcement,” Col. Alexander Amaya said.
Video captured by witnesses reveals Ordóñez, dressed in dark trousers and shoes, being held by officials as he cried.
“He is telling you to stop!” A witness yells in the background. “We are recording you”
According to officers, Ordóñez was taken into a police station and later into a hospital, where he came with no vital signs. As word of the death got out Wednesday, taxpayers took the streets, defying government orders to steer clear of conglomerations due to the pandemic. Several streets were abandoned with heaps of ash and rubble.
The deceased were mostly young men and women.
Authorities promised an exhaustive evaluation, though relatives voiced doubt that they’d see justice in a state with high levels of impunity.
The mayor said she’d insist on an independent probe from the attorney general’s office. “Not one of the families I have spoken with confidence within an investigation by law enforcement,” López said.
Authorities in Colombia were accused of excessive use of force throughout anti-government protests that attracted tens of thousands into the road this past year.
The newest unrest comes in a period of protests from the USA over racial discrimination and police abuse against Dark taxpayers. The Colombia protests are more closely connected to mistreat contrary to the poor and young. Taking a cue in the U.S., the hashtag #ColombiaLives Matter started trending on Twitter.
Alejandro Lanz, a lawyer who directs Temblores, a team that monitors police violence, stated he’s recorded 170 cases of excessive force this season. He expressed special concern regarding the use of guns by police as well as the existence of non-identified officers throughout Wednesday night’s protests.
“We believe these numbers are an undercount,” he explained.
Dozens of protesters attempted to knock down a stoplight and then decide on a trash bin.
Colombia is emerging out of a five-month lockdown directed at controlling the spread of this coronavirus. Millions have lost their jobs, almost 700,000 have been infected with the virus and more than 22,000 people have died from COVID-19.
Authorities requested citizens to stop acts of vandalism and violence.
“However, the violent acts also fill our pain and for that reason take more lives”