Bogotá is in flames following the murder of 46-year-old Javier Ordóñez by police officers early on September 9, Colombian Human Rights Day. The incident was recorded by Ordóñez’s friends and shared widely on social media, leading to a strong backlash from the public. By the afternoon of September 9, people across Bogotá and other cities were on the streets protesting the latest instance of state violence and brutality.
In neighborhoods across the country, people marched to the local police posts and participated in cacerolazos, banging pots and pans and raising chants against the police and demanding justice. According to reports from the Human Rights Foundation PASOS, in several locations across the city, the National Police shot indiscriminately with firearms at protesters. They also reported that police attacked human rights defenders and tampered with their electronic devices.
Following the violent repression, over 20 police stations have been vandalized and/or set on fire and barricades have been erected to protect protesters from the police attacks.
According to PASOS and media organization Colombia Informa which has been reporting on the ground, the violent repression has already led to deaths and left many with serious injuries. In its latest report, PASOS stated that there could be at least three deaths but further confirmation is needed.
Several videos captured the murder of one person in the neighborhood of Usaquén who was shot in the head by police with a firearm. Other videos have shown the brutal, unprovoked beatings of protesters and bystanders. Emergency rooms have been flooded with dozens of civilians injured from beatings and gunshots.
Social movements and human rights organizations have demanded that the authorities take action to stop the police violence. Earlier in the day, the mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, expressed regret at the murder of Ordóñez and vowed to support the family in their struggle for justice.
Furthermore, a district-wide human rights round table that was brought together on September 9 to address Ordóñez’s case decided that the case would not be handled by the Attorney General’s Office but by the Military Justice System. Organizations have condemned the decision citing the lack of guarantees of impartiality for victims and their families as those who make up the system are active or former members of Public Force, which means those investigated will be judged by police or members of the military.