Mexicans protest against police brutality after man ‘arrested for not wearing face mask’ dies in custody

Rory Sullivan
Demonstrators smash a door during a protest following the death of a young man while in police custody in Guadalajara, Mexico: AFP via Getty Images

Protests have erupted in Mexico against police brutality in the second-largest city, Guadalajara, calling for authorities to be held accountable for the death in custody of a local man allegedly arrested for not wearing a face mask.

During Thursday's unrest in the state capital of Jalisco, police cars were set on fire and buildings including the government palace vandalised. Police responded with force, beating demonstrators with batons and firing tear gas.

Demonstrations began after footage circulated on social media showing a young man, identified as Giovanni Lopez, being detained by police on 4 May. Bystanders can be heard saying the police were arresting him for not using a face mask.

Lopez, a construction worker, died in custody, a police statement said. His relatives later found his body at a hospital in the city, with a bullet wound on his foot. An autopsy found that he had died from a head injury.

Gael García Bernal, a Mexican actor, was among those who expressed outrage at the police’s actions on social media.

In a Twitter post, he wrote “Giovanni didn’t die, the police killed him” six times, followed by the hashtag #JusticiaParaGiovanni.

Enrique Alfaro, the governor of the state of Jalisco, denied that the man shown in the video had been detained for not using a face mask, but did not offer further comments on the incident.

He said that during the protests on Thursday six police officers had been injured, including one who was set on fire, and 22 men and 2 women were arrested.

Demonstrators attack a police vehicle during a protest in Guadalajara (AFP via Getty Images)

Mexico’s deputy minister for human rights has asked for case files from authorities in Jalisco as well as Baja California, where a similar incident is thought to have taken place in February.

Jalisco enforced strict measures to stem the spread of coronavirus, making the wearing of face masks mandatory.

The protests against police brutality in Mexico came after more than a week of worldwide demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, US.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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