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Colombians Protest Police Brutality As Javier Ordoñez Death Becomes A 'George Floyd Echo'

Ivan Valencia
A demonstrator kicks a Colombian police motorcyle during anti-police protests in Bogota Wednesday night.

Javier Ordoñez's death Wednesday after being repeatedly tasered by Colombian police was a tipping point that provoked deadly riots in Bogotá.

Protests and rioting broke out Wednesday night in Bogotá, Colombia, over police brutality. Colombians there and here in South Florida see the latest incident, the death of Javier Ordoñez, as their country’s version of the murder of George Floyd.

Bystander video from early Wednesday morning in Bogotá captures two Colombian police officers repeatedly firing a taser point blank at Ordoñez. He pleads with them to stop as they pin him down on the dark street while residents shout at the cops to ease up.

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They were apparently arresting Ordoñez, a 46-year-old taxi driver and law student, for violating a curfew to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He died later at a hospital.

Ordoñez’s death was a tipping point for many Colombians as police brutality and killings increase across their country. At least 10 people were killed Wednesday night during anti-police protests and riots in Bogotá. Mayor Claudia López decried the violence but promised police reform.

“Police abuse is absolutely unacceptable,” López said in a video.

Many Colombian expats in South Florida have long warned that police abuse, and several recent assassinations of social activists, would provoke this kind of backlash.

“You see this pattern of violence as a constant reality for Colombians," said Carlos Naranjo, a spokesman for the group Colombian Progressives in Miami.

"And then what happened in the United States with the uprisings and George Floyd. That echo came to Colombia. All of that is just bubbling up.”

Colombian Progressives will hold a vigil for Ordoñez and other Colombian police victims at Bayfront Park in Miami Sunday morning.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.