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A demonstrator wields a burning mop during a clash with police in Bogota, Colombia. Demonstrators clash with police during protests in Bogota, Sept. 9, 2020 (AP photo by Ivan Valencia).

In Colombia, Police Brutality Fuels Deadly Unrest as Protesters Demand Reform

Friday, Sept. 18, 2020

Security forces killed 13 people during two days of violent protests against police brutality last week in Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Sixty-six civilians and nearly 200 police officers were wounded. More than 200 buses were vandalized, and 54 small police posts were destroyed. If those numbers described a battle during the country’s 50-year internal armed conflict with guerrilla groups, it would have been one of the bloodier ones. It was a jarring sight to behold in “post-conflict” Colombia, four years after the country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as the FARC, signed a peace accord with the government.

The spark for the unrest recalls the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. On Sept. 8, a video circulated online, taken with a mobile phone, showing police officers repeatedly using a stun gun on a man they had already pinned to the ground, while he begged them to stop. The man, Javier Ordonez, a lawyer in his mid-40s with two children, was not suspected of committing a crime, but had been drinking that night with friends and had apparently exchanged insults with the officers. According to local media reports, he was later driven to a police station and beaten; he died in a hospital hours later, from nine fractures to his skull. ...

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