A Chilean Police Officer Is Charged With Attempted Murder After Throwing a Protestor Off Of a Bridge
Photo by Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images
Earlier this month, a police officer in Santiago, Chile was captured on video pushing a 16-year-old male demonstrator off of a bridge. The boy fell into the canal below, fracturing his wrist and suffering head trauma. He was transported to the hospital and is in stable condition.
The violent video sparked an additional wave of protests against the Carabineros–Chile’s militarized national police force that the officer was a part of.
Before the video surfaced, witnesses who were protesting voiced their anger at the police officer’s actions and demanded that he be brought to justice. Initially, a spokesperson for the Carabineros, General Enrique Monrás, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the officer, claiming that the boy “lost balance and fell”.
Monrás claimed the police force even had footage that refuted the purported events. But when the footage of the boy being pushed over the bridge went public, there was no question as to what happened.
The footage of the incident went viral in Chile, prompting a surge of demonstrations and protests in Santiago–a city already racked with civil unrest.
Days later, Chile opened up an investigation against the police officer, saying the officer “gave false information to the Prosecutor’s Office” and had “abandoned the victim” after throwing him off the bridge. The officer’s lawyer says he was following procedure. Nevertheless, by then the damage had been done.
Following the incident, protestors threw red die into the canal, making it look like it was running red with the metaphorical blood of protestors. The protests are part of an ongoing civil unrest that was sparked by economic inequality in Chile as well as President Sebastián Piñera’s failure to address the people’s concerns.
To make matters worse, the Piñera government has responded to the protests with excessive violence.
In the last year, Chile has been making headlines for permanently blinding protestors with rubber bullets. Protestors claim that Caballeros are deliberately shooting people in the eyes, aiming to blind them for life.
This most recent incident has simply served to bolster the protestors’ claims that they are being treated brutally by the Chilean government. “The police are violent. We can’t bear it anymore,” said a protestor named Carmen Soria to Al Jazeera News. “They’ve raped, tortured, run people over, blinded others, and now, they’re throwing people in the Mapocho river. The government doesn’t want us to protest, doesn’t want us to gather together, but they don’t care that we gather in the busses and in subways like sardines to go to work.”