Mayor of Bogotá apologizes for police brutality that sparked protests in Colombia
The mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, apologized this Sunday for the abuses of the public force, in a ceremony that brought together relatives of those killed and injured during the bloody protests that broke out five days ago against police violence in Colombia.
In a closed event to avoid crowds in the pandemic, some 150 people were summoned in the Plaza de Bolívar, the political center of the country.
The president apologized for each of the fatalities, mostly young people allegedly shot by members of the police.
Recognizing the seriousness of what happened and honoring the memory of the victims and the pain of their families is the first essential step to build a process of truth and justice that enables one of reconciliation, López added while several spectators broke in tears.
The demonstrations began on Wednesday to protest the alleged murder of Javier Ordóñez, a 43-year-old engineer who received brutal punishment by two policemen.
In subsequent protests, 13 people were killed, most of them shot. In addition, 178 civilians were injured, of which 75 had gunshot wounds, according to the mayor.
Of the riots and clashes between protesters and the security forces, 194 uniformed soldiers were also injured, although the police have not specified how many of them due to gunshot wounds. Several command posts were attacked.
López denounced the indiscriminate use of firearms by the security forces, despite the clear instructions given that lethal weapons are never to be used during the demonstrations.
In the middle of the event, Bryan Baquero, who lost his 19-year-old sister Angie, took the floor.
We are living in a moment of sadness, pain and anguish, he said said.
The day before, the mayor published an invitation to the event for President Iván Duque on her social networks, written in her own handwriting. But the president did not attend the ceremony.
The president should be here, the national police should be here, said Mayra Páez, 17-year-old widow of Jader Fonseca.
My husband was not killed by a stray bulled; it was four shots – they shot him," she emotionally added.
The death of Javier Ordóñez, the trigger for discontent in the streets, is under investigation.
His case was evoked by the death of African-American George Floyd. His brutal murder by the poilce in May, sparked a wave of protests across the United States.
Father Francisco de Roux, superior of the Jesuit community in Colombia, asked himself during the ceremony: Why did they kill them? Why was there this idea that weapons can be used to break into legitimate protest?