Protestors, Police Again Clash In Bogota Amid Calls For Reconciliation

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Demonstrators run for cover after clashes erupted during the fifth straight day of protests against police brutality in Bogota on September 13, 2020. - Bogota's Mayor Claudia Lopez, apologized this Sunday for the abuses of the public force, in a ceremony that gathered relatives of the dead and wounded during the bloody protests that broke out five days ago against police brutality in Colombia. (Photo by JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images)
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By Luis Jaime Acosta and Oliver Griffin

BOGOTA, Colombia, Mon. Sept. 14, 2020 (Reuters): Demonstrators clashed with police in Bogota, Colombia Sunday, for the fifth straight day of protests against police brutality even as Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez, apologized for the abuses of the public force, in a ceremony that gathered relatives of the dead and wounded.

Protests in Colombia’s capital the past week left 10 civilians dead and hundreds injured. Protests in Bogota and satellite city Soacha began following the death on Wednesday of Javier Ordonez, 46. A widely shared video showed the father of two being repeatedly shocked with a stun gun by police. He died later in a hospital.

During protests last Wednesday, seven young people, including teenagers, died after being shot in Bogota. Three other people died in connection with the protests last Thursday night, including a woman who was hit by a stolen public bus.

Three people were also killed in Soacha during the protests.

Bogota Mayor Lopez called for reconciliation in the aftermath of the clashes and made apologies to the victims’ families.

“We are here today to ask forgiveness of all victims of police brutality,” Lopez said during a televised event to commemorate those who died in the protests.

Relatives of the victims called for justice but said further protests should be peaceful.

“From our hearts we ask that justice be done, because we know of other such incidents that have gone unpunished and we don’t want the same to happen with each one of these victims,” said Bryan Baquero, whose sister Angie was killed in the protests.

Later on Sunday, crowds of demonstrators marched through the center of Bogota, with clashes between protesters and police in some places.

In the past week, hundreds of civilians have been injured in clashes between protesters and police in Soacha and Bogota, with dozens wounded by gunshots in the capital.

Close to 200 police officers were also injured, while at least 60 police stations were vandalized, as well as dozens of public transport vehicles.

Police said Ordonez was found drinking alcohol in the street with friends in violation of coronavirus distancing rules. Two police officers implicated in Ordonez’s death have been fired and face charges of homicide and abusing their authority.

A further five officers connected to his death have been suspended.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Oliver Griffin; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney)

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