Mexico: Protesters Against Police Brutality Storm State Building, Set Fire to Officer

By Nélida Tello

Last weekend, three consecutive days of protests erupted in Guadalajara, Mexico in response to the police killing of Giovanni López, a 30-year-old construction worker, which surfaced after authorities attempted to bury the case and offer his family a $9,000 US dollar bribe in exchange for silence. After a month of negligence, the rebellions forced the state to arrest three police officers involved in Giovanni’s killing, but the governor still refused to release the names of the culprits.

Giovanni Lopez

Giovanni López was arrested on May 4 by ten Ixtlahuacán police officers for presumably failing to wear a mask while in public. After officers beat him mercilessly and shot him in the leg, López was pronounced dead in the early hours of May 5.

On June 4, protesters in Guadalajara stormed the state government building demanding justice for Lopez. Protesters forced the doors of the building open, smashed windows, and defaced the building with graffiti, while chanting “Giovanni didn’t die, he was murdered by the state!” Protesters managed to break into the building and seize both national and state flags, setting them on fire. Computers and other state property were also destroyed inside the building.

In a video from inside the state government building, officers barricaded within can be heard saying “We’re going to kill [these protesters],” as the protesters breached the doors. Outside, in a bold act of rebellion, one protester set officer Rodolfo Essaú on fire and six police officers were reported injured. Three police cars were set ablaze during the protests.

Scenes of police brutality witnessed in the streets were widely circulated on social media. Police officers were seen kicking and beating protesters with batons, street poles, other makeshift weapons, and launching tear gas to subdue protesters.

On Friday June 5, protesters demonstrated outside of the district attorney’s office demanding the freedom of 28 protesters arrested the day prior. Plainclothes officers infiltrated the action and proceeded to make more arrests, taking people away in unmarked vehicles. Fourteen protesters were disappeared on Friday and their whereabouts were withheld until Monday. About 50 protesters were stopped and detained en route to the Friday protest, where they were beaten and threatened with disappearance and death.

In an attempt to end the protests in Guadalajara, Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez denounced the rebellion as an act of outsiders, claiming that protesters were too dark-skinned to be from Jalisco.

According to people’s organizations in Mexico, more than 38 protesters remain unaccounted for. Six of those arrested on Friday were transferred to Puente Grande state prison without notifying their lawyers or family members, only released Tuesday morning after demonstrations took place outside the state prison.

The protests have spread to Mexico City, where protesters looted a Starbucks and took down security cameras in downtown. The protesters marched to District Attorney Ernestina Godoy’s office, where they broke windows, forced their way inside, and tagged the building with “Justice for Giovanni.” Police repression was just as brutal in Mexico City as it was in Guadalajara; a 16-year-old girl at the protest was brutally kicked by police officers, among others who were injured.

Much like the protests in the US, the Mexican uprising in Guadalajara was a stand against the extrajudicial killings carried out by police with impunity. The uprising demanding justice for Giovanni comes on the heels of worldwide protests in solidarity with the struggle for Black liberation in the US and against police brutality in the US and worldwide.