“Let’s Not Hit Each Other Anymore” — Colombian Riot Police Stop Battling Protesters, & Then Join Them
In the middle of unrest rocking Colombia and running battles between Colombia’s ESMAD Riot Police and protesters, an ESMAD trooper pulled out a white handkerchief in a truce symbol and approached protesters, some of whom were suspected of setting alight a fellow trooper with a Molotov cocktail. What he said next was unexpected and is reverberating through the country.
“It also hurts us to hit you. My feet already hurt because this body armor is too small for me. And I want us to not hit each other anymore.”
You can hear in the video (in Spanish) that his call was met with lots of skepticism, though some in the group urged calm, to hear him out. He continued:
“Let’s do something. Let’s set an example for the country of what is done in Cartagenita…I’m taking out my white handkerchief. Let’s not take the streets,” he said, asking protesters and police to stop battling and allow traffic to safely pass. Police and protesters then joined in singing the Colombian national anthem, and afterwards marched peacefully together.
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Cartagenita is a neighborhood of Facatativá, a small city in Cundinamarca just over an hour outside of Colombia’s capital of Bogotá. The notorious ESMAD is a detachment of Colombia’s national police trained specifically to deal with civil unrest: riot police. ESMAD stands for “Escuadrones Móviles Antidisturbios,” or Mobile Anti-disturbance Squadrons. They are deployed for everything from rowdy soccer matches to violent riots, but have a record of human rights abuses and police brutality.
Headline photo: Twitter @Dayhana3