Bogotá burns as protests erupt against police brutality

By Oli Pritchard September 9, 2020

Videos of Javier Ordóñez being taser-ed by the police have sparked protests throughout the city.

Police brutality caused riots in Bogotá.
Police brutality caused riots in Bogotá. Photo: Anonymous

Bogotá saw another wave of anti-police protests this Wednesday evening after Javier Ordóñez died following police use of tasers. The incident happened in the early hours of the morning, and anger grew throughout the day. With limited response from authorities, tensions at what began as a vigil outside the Villa Luz police CAI in Engativá boiled over into violent protest.

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The protest became increasingly violent and riot police ESMAD arrived. Other groups headed to their local police CAIs and by sundown there were reports of violent and persistent protests throughout the city. 

What happened to Javier Ordóñez?

Javier Ordóñez, a lawyer who had been working as a taxi driver during the pandemic, died on Tuesday night after being repeatedly tasered by police in Engativá. 

Violent police brutality protests in Bogotá leave 7 confirmed dead

Police had originally stopped Ordóñez for violating the quarantine restrictions. Video footage shows the 43-year-old father of two asking police to stop as they held him down and tasered him for several minutes. He later died in hospital, leaving sparking a wave of anger at the excessive use of police force. 

Protests spread across city

Details are hard to come by, but the protests spread from Bogotá to other parts of the country. In the capital itself, CAIs were set alight in Parkway, Techo, Gaitana and Villa Luz, as well as a TransMilenio station in Bosa. It seems that others may also be ablaze, but the true extent of the night’s events won’t be known until the morning. What is clear is that anti-police feeling is still running high following the protests nearly a year ago. Young student protester Dilan Cruz was killed by police during those anti-government protests.

Claudia López has proposed further controls on police, and spoke of serious reform. She said that it is time to stop speaking about isolated incidents and bad apples and committed to change. Critics question the level of control she holds over the police. 

It’s understandable that many people are suspicious of authority, as they have witnessed enough instances of police brutality. It’s fair to say the police command a fair share of fear but little respect in Colombia as a whole. Last night’s video raises serious questions about the excessive use of police force and supposedly non-lethal weapons. The question now is, is there a way back from this situation?

The Transmilenio station Bosa was set on fire. Photo: Anonymous