Clashes in Colombia as Protests against Police Continue

By Sinikka Tarvainen, (dpa)

HAVANA TIMES – New protests erupted in Colombia on Thursday in reaction to two police officers allegedly killing a man in Bogota. Demonstrators clashed with police in several cities.

Protesters in Bogota attacked police posts, banks, threw stones and petrol bombs, burned tires and garbage containers and blocked roads. Previous demonstrations were reported to have claimed 10 lives.

Violence also broke out in Medellin, Cali and half a dozen other cities.

Several people injured and dozens arrested resulted from the unrest.

The protests started on Wednesday after the publication of a disturbing video on social media. Two police officers pinned lawyer Javier Ordonez to the ground, repeatedly shocking him with a stun pistol.

The officers accused Ordonez of violating coronavirus restrictions by drinking in the street with his friends. He was then taken to a police post and allegedly beaten, leading to his death.

The case unleashed a wave of unrest which claimed seven lives in Bogota and three in the nearby Soacha. Some of the victims were passers-by hit by stray bullets.

Mayor of Bogota accuses police of unathorized shootings

Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez reported injuries to more than 390 civilians and police officers in the capital.

She accused police of using firearms indiscriminately and without authorization.

President Ivan Duque called for calm. He warned against stigmatizing the entire police force. He also pledged a rapid investigation into Ordonez’s death.

Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo attributed the violence to a social media movement. He claimed the perpetrators seek to tarnish the reputation of police and incite violence.

Police earlier said protesters attacked more than 50 police posts, setting many of them on fire, in several cities.

Buses burned, bus stations and banks attacked, and shops looted, left some urban areas looking like war zones.

Holmes Trujillo announced the dispatchment of more than 1,500 police and soldiers to boost security in Bogota.

The city authorities proposed a reform of the police force, which would include new rules on the use of stun pistols.

Several people died in incidents with police in the Bogota area in 2019 and 2020, according to reports.

The best-known case was that of Dilan Cruz. A police projectile hit the young man during anti-government protests in November.