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Guadalupe Hernández of the Ateneas squad says she was struck by a hammer. Guadalupe Hernández of the Ateneas squad says she was struck by a hammer.

All-women police division: ‘Abortion Day marchers attacked us without reason’

Police say protesters threw Molotov cocktails at unarmed officers

Mexico City policewomen responding to Monday’s International Safe Abortion Day protest say they were attacked with Molotov cocktails and hammers without reason in an hours-long skirmish with abortion-rights activists.  

“It was the demonstration with the most direct attacks on us. They did not care that we were women and attacked us like that when they claimed to be our defenders. They directly threw Molotov cocktails at us and hit me with a hammer, they didn’t mind hitting you in the head,” said Guadalupe Hernández, deputy director of the Environmental Police, a detachment that is part of the all-women Ateneas squad that was in charge of policing the march.

An estimated 1,000 women participated in the demonstration, which they hoped would end in the zócalo, or city square, where another group of protesters demanding President López Obrador’s resignation has been camped out since last week. 

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said police asked that marchers hand over objects that could be used as weapons before entering the square, but they refused to do so and their access was blocked.

A small contingent of irate protesters then attacked shield-bearing police with metal pipes, paint, sticks, rocks, hammers, and Molotov cocktails, authorities say.

Sheinbaum said 44 police officers were injured in the clash.

Hernández said the tendons in her hand were injured during the demonstration. “We only asked that they march in peace and out of respect They hurt us and attacked us without reason. The only thing left for us was to protect ourselves, but we did not deserve the attack,” she said. 

Ateneas’ deputy director Gabriela Torres Sánchez said the attacks began with protesters hurling a Molotov cocktail at police, setting 10 officers on fire. Ateneas officers do not carry any kind of weapon, she said, and although police have been accused of using tear gas on marchers, authorities insist the chemical cloud that was seen came from fire extinguishers as police sought to defend themselves.

“The only thing they did was attack, break glass and hit colleagues who are also women, mothers,” she said.

Yesterday, President López Obrador praised Sheinbaum’s handling of the demonstration, saying her administration acted with “great responsibility, with great prudence.”

He also appealed to activists to keep their protests peaceful. “You cannot solve anything with the use of violence, that is not advisable. You cannot confront violence with violence, you cannot put out a fire with fire,” he said. “You have to fight peacefully and that is the only thing that we recommend.” 

Source: El Universal (sp)

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