Protests
Protests against police violence reach Mexico after man dies in police custody
In Mexico, protesters vandalized downtown Guadalajara for alleged police brutality against Giovanni López. The state Governor accused the President's party of being behind the riots.

On May 4, a group of police officers arrested Giovanni López while he was walking down the street, after he was accused of an administrative offence for not wearing a mask on the street. One day after his arrest, the 30-year-old man, a construction worker, allegedly died at the hands of municipal police officers in Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, 25 miles from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico.

The outrage spread on social media after video of the arrest, carried out with excessive force, was posted on the internet earlier this week amidst widespread protests by the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-HCHR) in Mexico condemned the incident and demanded a thorough investigation of the case. The Ministry of the Interior also condemned the events and promised that it would work to seek justice in this case. Even celebrities like Oscar-winning Jalisco-born filmmaker Guillermo del Toro joined the public demand for justice for the victim.

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"To the municipal and also to the state corporations, a very clear message: in Jalisco we are not going to allow abuses of authority, much less human rights violations", said Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro, who has been heavily criticized for his government's repressive approach to people violating the "stay at home" order since the beginning of the pandemic. "For the sake of everyone, zero tolerance," he said at one point.

This time, the governor did not miss the opportunity to send a warning to the state and municipal police: "The police are there to take care of the people, to guarantee public order and the rule of law. The consequences for those who do not understand this will be serious". This did not prevent the demonstration scheduled for today shortly after 1 p.m. at the Jalisco Government Palace, which ended with the historic building being damaged and two police cars set on fire.

We're not investigating why he was detained, we're investigating why he was killed and who killed him. That's the most important thing. There can be no cause for this brutal act. -Governor Enrique Alfaro

Approximately 1,200 people gathered at Parque Rojo, at the intersection of Juárez and Federalismo avenues, and headed downtown to assemble in front of the government palace, where they painted and shouted slogans against the state government and the police. "They don't take care of us, they murder us". "Alfaro murderer, justice, justice". "Giovanni didn't die, the government killed him," the mostly young protesters shouted in a chorus.

The door of the government building was forced opened and about 50 people stormed into the already empty offices. A Mexican flag and a Jalisco flag were taken down and set on fire. The windowpanes were broken with chairs, sticks and stones. A group of demonstrators went to the side of the building to smash the windows of two state police cars parked on Pedro Moreno Street, on the corner of Ramon Corona Avenue.

Members of the Guadalajara Security Police, who were watching from a distance along with a few firefighters, moved away from the spot as the official vans began to burn. Highway police were in charge of keeping curious people away from the scene. After the vehicles were tagged, a group of protesters set them on fire and pulled out a semiautomatic rifle that they left on the ground.

For several minutes, explosions were heard coming from the police cars and the demonstrators dispersed in Plaza Liberación, behind the Cathedral of Guadalajara. Finally, Civil Protection officers took custody of the streets surrounding the site, which was repeatedly encircled by the demonstrators.

After the protests, Governor Alfaro delivered a televised message accusing Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of being behind the riots in Guadalajara. Alfaro belongs to the Movimiento Ciudadano party while AMLO heads the Morena party.

"I ask the president of the Republic to tell his people and his party that I hope they are measuring what they are doing, the damage they are causing the country, with this atmosphere of confrontation, because they are precisely the ones who have generated all this that we are going through," said the governor.

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Alfaro continued: "From the basements of power, they seek to harm Jalisco, not necessarily their government, [but] to harm our state. To hurt our state in a difficult moment that we are living amid a health emergency".

The governor said the violent protesters "were people looking for something else: they were looking to provoke the government and I want to tell you that they didn't succeed". He said the city and state police "acted up to the circumstances".

"(The police officers) knew how to resist and did not fall for the provocation. No act of violence was committed against the demonstrators, even though they did what I had never seen in a demonstration in Guadalajara," he said. 

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