Colombian authorities have announced that the ongoing unrest over the police-involved death of law student Javier Ordonez has spread to cities beyond Bogota as of Friday, September 11. The cities of Cali, Medellín, and Manizales all reported overnight unrest, mostly in the vicinity of local police stations, with demonstrators protesting against alleged police brutality and excessive force. In Cali, protesters clashed with riot police in the Parque Panamericano who fired tear gas in response with reports of at least ten people being arrested. In Medellín, protesters gathered in the Parque de los Deseos where multiple people were arrested with injuries to security forces reported. In Manizales, more than 500 people demonstrated in the El Cable plaza of the city where riot police dispersed the crowd after attempting to light a local police station on fire.
The unrest, which began on Wednesday in the Villa Luz area of the Engativa district, quickly spread to cities nationwide. Additional security forces, including 1,600 police officers and 300 military personnel, have been deployed in the capital on Friday in an attempt to stem the violence.
A heightened security presence and overland transport disruptions are expected throughout urban centers in Colombia, and further protests are likely in the coming days.
The protests follow the death of law student Javier Ordonez, who is reported to have died after being tasered and forcibly subdued by police officers whilst being arrested for allegedly violating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions. Although the Bogota Metropolitan Police Department has expressed regrets over the death and suspended two of the officers involved pending an investigation, video footage showing officers forcibly subduing Ordonez has been widely shared on social media in the country and drawn significant condemnation.
Those in Colombia are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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