The death of Javier Ordonez, a 46-year-old man who was subjected to brutality and the repeated use of a Taser electric pistol by two policemen in Bogotá, unleashed violent protests in the Colombian capital on Wednesday that left an unknown number of protesters and soldiers injured.
“Please, now”, “agent, I beg you”, were the phrases that the man said when he was immobilized by two agents on a street in the Santa Cecilia neighborhood, in the western part of the Colombian capital, and which caused outrage among the citizens who protested in front of the Immediate Action Commands (CAI) of the Police.
At those posts, of which there are dozens in city neighborhoods, the protesters, mostly young people, yelled “murderers, murderers” at the uniformed men and began to throw all kinds of objects at the police infrastructure.
The protest, which began in the CAI of the Villaluz neighborhood, to which the two police officers involved in Ordóñez’s death were assigned, was repeated in other parts of Bogotá and other cities in the country, many of which were set on fire by the protesters.
According to the Secretary of Government of Bogotá, Luis Ernesto Gómez, so far this year the Mayor’s Office has received 137 complaints of “alleged excessive use of force, of possible human rights violations by the Police” in the city.
“I call for calm”
The clashes between the uniformed officers and the protesters lasted well into the night not only in Bogotá but also in other cities such as Cali and Medellín.
In the Colombian capital, mobs set fire to the CAIs in neighborhoods such as La Gaitana, Castilla, Kennedy, La Soledad, Ciudad Berna, Ciudad Roma and Usme, and also burned garbage baskets, police motorcycles and even overturned and destroyed trucks of that institution and the Prosecutor’s Office.
In the Bosa sector, in the south of the city, a bus of the Integrated Public Transport System was set on fire and in the La Gaitana neighborhood, which is part of the populous town of Suba, in the northwest, a crowd overturned another bus.
According to citizen complaints, at least two men were seriously injured by the police during the excesses tonight, one in Suba and the other in the El Tintal neighborhood.
“We denounce that Fabián Silvano Peña Rodríguez was wounded in the head apparently by a shot by the Public Force while he was demonstrating peacefully in the vicinity of CAI El Tintal. We demand an urgent response from the Bogota Mayor’s Office and the Police,” he said on Twitter Sergio Marín, representative to the Chamber for the FARC party.
For his part, the director of Colombia Publimetro, Alejandro Pino, denounced that police agents threatened a reporter from that newspaper with “taking away his press card, retaining him and fining him for taking photos of the protest” in the Park Way area.
Meanwhile, on social networks, users posted videos of alleged police abuses during the demonstrations and even of uniformed men attacking residential houses.
“Just as we condemn police abuse, we also condemn violence and vandalism by some protesters. Abuse and violence are not solved with more violence. It is in these moments where we must cling to the Constitution and peaceful citizen mobilization,” he said, for her part, the mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López.
Meanwhile, the Colombian vice president, Marta Lucia Ramirez He assured that Ordóñez’s death is unacceptable and stated that “ordinary justice must take prompt action.”
“I call for calm to citizens concentrated in the CAI of Villa Luz for the death of Javier Ordóñez in a painful case of police abuse. The best guarantor to do justice is to allow speedy investigation of the case by authorities in the place, “added Ramírez.
The Minister of Defense, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who spent part of the night in an urgent security meeting, said that the two agents who attacked the lawyer “are already subject to a disciplinary and criminal investigation and the institution will give all the collaboration that the competent authority requires.”
The Office of the Attorney General of the Nation immediately assumed the investigation of the case that will be in charge of a group of specialists of its Technical Investigation Corps (CTI), while the Attorney General’s Office took “as preferential power the process that the National Police carried out for the death of the citizen “.
The Public Ministry seeks to establish and individualize the participation that members of the Police apparently had during the operation, as well as the treatment given to the victim once she was uploaded to a patrol of the institution.
The desperate clamor of Ordóñez, who according to his relatives was the father of two young children, revived in Colombians the images of last May on a street in Minneapolis (United States) where George Floyd he was squeezed to death by police from that city despite his request: “I can’t breathe.”
In a five-minute video, recorded by witnesses to the attack, it is seen how the police subdue Ordóñez with violence and with prolonged discharges of the Taser in different parts of the body despite the fact that he was already on the ground in a defenseless state .
Like Floyd, Ordóñez was arrested and driven in a van to a police station in the Villaluz neighborhood, and then taken to a hospital where he died hours later.
The lawyer’s death also evoked the case of the young Dilan Cruz, who died on November 25 in a Bogotá clinic two days after being wounded in the head by a pellet shot from a member of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad). when he participated in one of the social protests.