The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday unanimously condemned police violence against protesters in Colombia and called for a suspension of U.S. arms and crowd control equipment aid to the Colombian government.
Colombia’s national police force is accused of beating, detaining and killing protesters over the last month. President Iván Duque said he does not believe the violence was systemic, according to the New York Times, which reported based on dozens of interviews with witnesses and victims’ family members that officers have opened fire on peaceful demonstrations.
Colombian workers began protesting on April 28 against a tax reform bill that would raise taxes on the working class and businesses. The bill was withdrawn, but protesters have continued demonstrations to denounce human rights abuses committed against activists.
“United Nations and Organization of American States human rights experts have received reports of at least 26 recent killings, 1,876 cases of police violence, 216 injured, approximately 168 disappearances, 963 alleged arbitrary detentions, at least 12 cases of sexual violence and allegations of torture,” the resolution, introduced by Councilman Kevin de León, stated.
“The city of Los Angeles should demand greater oversight of this matter by urging every member of the United States Congress, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and the White House to condemn the horrific human rights violations by the Colombian government against its working-class people who are seeking justice and equality, and recognize that all people should have the fundamental right to demonstrate against elected leaders.”
The resolution, if signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, would show the city’s official support for any legislation that:
— supports the international condemnation of violence against civilians by the Colombian government;
— enforces Leahy Laws and suspends aid in the form of arms, crowd control equipment and funding to Colombia; and
— guarantees freedom of movement, demonstration and equitable access to vaccines, health care, COVID-19 testing and humanitarian aid until those committing the human rights violations are convicted and violence against civilians stops.
“This resolution reaffirms that the right to express oneself, especially in the form of a peaceful protest, is a fundamental human right that cannot be taken away or cannot be silenced through violence and brutality,” de León said to council members before the vote Wednesday.