Mexican protesters clash with police over custody death

A police officer clashes with demonstrators during a protest to demand justice for Giovanni Lopez, a construction worker who died after being arrested for not wearing a face mask in public, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Guadalajara, Mexico June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Fernando Carranza

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexicans protested against police brutality on Thursday in the second-largest city, Guadalajara, calling for authorities to be held accountable for the death in custody of a local man allegedly arrested over not wearing a face mask in public.

Protests have swelled in cities worldwide since the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck in Minneapolis.

Protesters in the historic center of the state capital of Jalisco vandalized buildings, including the palace, and set ablaze several police cars, footage from network Milenio showed. Police were seen using force against protesters.

A media outlet said one of its photographers was kicked out after being mistaken for a protester.

However, the story was ridden with “many lies”, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro responded in a video message late on Thursday. He denied the man depicted in the video had been held for not using a face mask, but gave no further details.

Alfaro said six police were injured, including one set on fire, with 22 male, and two female, protesters detained. He promised an investigation and condemned the violence, which he described as having been “never before seen”.

Mexico’s deputy minister for human rights requested case files from authorities in Jalisco and Baja California, where there may have been a similar incident in February.

Jalisco has implemented strict measures aimed to curb the spread of the coronavirus; wearing face masks is mandatory.

Although the exact circumstances of the death in Jalisco are not known, footage circulating on social media showed a young man, identified as Giovanni Lopez, being detained by police in early May. Bystanders can be heard saying the police were arresting him for not using a face mask.

Lopez, a construction worker, died in custody, the statement said.

(Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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