Chile: Thousands Protest Police Murder of Street Artist, Ten Government Buildings Set Ablaze

Photo Credit: Alicia Caceres/Aton for Chile/AFP via Getty Images

By Nélida Tello

Police in the city of Panguipulli, Chile murdered Francisco Martinez, 27, on February 5 during an identification check, resulting in mass protests throughout the country. In Panguipulli, demonstrators set fire to 10 government buildings, including the city hall.

The capital of Chile, Santiago, saw thousands of protesters take the streets demanding justice for Martinez, and similarly to the protests in Panguipulli, barricades were erected and stones were used against the police.

Martinez, a known street artist in the city, was performing a juggling act at an intersection downtown when police officers requested Martinez’s identification card.

Police proceeded to shoot Francisco five times after he did not present identification when requested. According to Francisco’s sister, he had lost his identification card years prior. He was shot four times in the legs before the fatal bullet was fired into his chest. He died on the scene.

Police refused to provide any first aid to Francisco, leaving him to die. A nearby nurse assisted the 27-year-old for as long as she could, with other bystanders bravely confronting the police and shielding Martinez as he lay in the street. Footage of the police shooting circulated widely throughout social media outlets.

The night of the police murder, people throughout Panguipulli gathered in the thousands and combatively demanded justice for Francisco. Clashes with police broke out as police used tear gas and heavily repressed the protest.

This was not the first confrontation between the Martinez family and the police. Francisco’s sister confirmed that police threw her son into the Mapocho River during the 2019 uprisings.

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