BOGOTA – The death of Javier Ordoñez, a 46-year-old man who was subjected to brutality and the repeated use of a Taser gun by two police officials in Bogota, sparked violent protests in Colombia’s capital on Wednesday that left an unknown number of protesters and officials wounded.
“Please stop,” “Officer, I beg you” said the man, when he was immobilized by the two police officials in a street in the Santa Cecilia neighborhood in west Bogota and which provoked outrage among the citizens who protested in front of police outposts known as centers of immediate attention (CAI).
The protesters, most of them young, shouted “murderer, murderer” at the police officials and threw objects at the outposts, dozens of which are located around the neighborhood.
The protest, which began at the CAI in the Villa Luz neighborhood, to which the two police officials involved in Ordoñez’s death were assigned, was echoed in other parts of Bogota and more cities across the country, many of which were torched by the protesters.
According to the secretary of government of Bogota, Luis Ernesto Gomez, the city hall has received 137 complaints for “alleged excessive use of force, possible human rights violations by the police” in the city this year.
Clashes between police and protesters continued well into the night not only in Bogota but also in other cities such as Cali and Medellin.
In the Colombian capital, mobs torched the CAI and garbage bins, police motorcycles and even overturned and destroyed vans belonging to the police and the district attorney’s office.
In Bosa in southwest Bogota, demonstrators set fire to a bus from the Integrated Public Transport System and in the neighborhood of La Gaitana, which is part of the populous locality of Suba in the northwest of the capital, a crowd overturned another bus.
According to citizens’ complaints, at least two men were seriously injured by the police during the clashes on Wednesday night.
“We report that Fabian Silvano Peña Rodriguez was wounded in the head by seems to be a shot fired by the police while demonstrating peacefully in the vicinity of the CAI of El Tintal. We demand an urgent response from the mayor of Bogota and the police,” Sergio Marin, the House of Representatives legislator for the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common (FARC) party, said on Twitter.
Videos of alleged police abuse during the protests and of officials attacking residential homes were circulated on social media.
“Abuse and violence are not solved by more violence. It is at these times that we must cling to the Constitution and peaceful demonstrations,” Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez said.
Meanwhile, Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez described Ordoñez’s death as unacceptable and called for the judiciary to take prompt action.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who convened an urgent security meeting on Wednesday night, said that the two officials who attacked the lawyer “are already subject to a disciplinary and criminal investigation and the institution (police) will give all the cooperation required by the competent authority.”
The Attorney General’s Office immediately took over the investigation of the case, which will be carried out by a group of specialists from its Technical Investigation Corps (CTI), while the Ombudsman’s Office took over “the process that the National Police was carrying out due to the death of the citizen.”
The public ministry seeks to establish and determine the alleged participation of the members of the police during the operation as well as the treatment meted out to the victim once he was subjected to a patrol stop.