A protest in which more than 500 women participated to demand that authorities take action against four police officers accused of raping a minor turned violent yesterday in Mexico City.
The protesters first gathered at the central offices of the Mexico City Secretariat of Security (SSC), where they shouted anti-police slogans condemning the rape of a 17-year-old girl in the northern borough of Azcapotzalco.
They also graffitied the office building with phrases including “rapist pigs,” “attack one and you attack all of us” and “you don’t take care of us, you rape us.”
Security Secretary Jesús Orta Martínez left the building escorted by three security guards to try to engage in dialogue with the protesters and to speak to the press.
However, one protester threw a fistful of pink glitter at the police chief, covering part of his jacket and hair, and soon after the guards ushered him back into the building.
Shortly after, the protesters marched to the headquarters of the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (PGJ), where they shouted more abuse at police and government officials and spray-painted the building’s external walls.
Then the protest turned violent.
One group of women attempted to enter the reception area of the PGJ offices but their path was quickly blocked by security guards who shut and locked the glass doors.
The newspaper El Universal reported that two protesters used hammers and stones to shatter the glass doors after which they and other women entered the building and proceeded to vandalize the reception area.
Several computers were thrown to the floor and furniture was broken. Nobody attempted to prevent the vandalism once the protesters were inside, El Universal said.
Outside the building, another group destroyed a PGJ security camera and placed a pig’s head on a post.
The women demanded that Attorney General Ernestina Godoy meet with them at the entrance to the building to explain the progress of the investigation into the sexual assault but after initially indicating that she was prepared to do so, she changed her mind.
Godoy subsequently wrote on Twitter that in response to the “provocation” at the PGJ offices, the government “won’t fall into the same.”
She also said that authorities would investigate the violent break-in and vandalism.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum also labeled the protest an “act of provocation,” asserting that the protesters wanted the government to respond to their violence with aggression of their own.
However, she stressed that the government would not “fall into provocations for any reason.”
The mayor said that authorities will review security camera footage to identify those responsible for the violence and destruction at PGJ headquarters.
The protest was triggered by an accusation of sexual assault against four men presumed to be Mexico City police. The teenage girl says the rape took place inside a patrol car in the early morning of August 3.
Sheinbaum said that authorities are doing everything possible to complete the investigation into the rape case and stressed that there will be no impunity.
However, social media users expressed skepticism about Sheinbaum’s commitment.
On Twitter, where the hashtag #NoMeCuidanMeViolan (They Don’t Look After Me, They Rape Me) has been used more than 50,000 times to denounce the four police officers accused of the sexual assault, one person wrote that “Sheinbaum will punish today’s women activists more quickly than the SSC rapists.”
Other social media users expressed similar sentiments.
“The police rape women: nobody says anything. The security secretary threatens journalists: nobody says anything. Women protest, throw glitter at the Police Chief Jesús Orta: it’s a provocation, we will open investigation files!” one Twitter user wrote.
“We endure rape, discrimination, harassment and violence and the guy [Orta] gets upset because they threw glitter at him. Relax, Jesús Orta, glitter doesn’t stain like blood,” another Twitter user said.
“They’re not provocations,” a Facebook user said in a message directed to the mayor.
“It’s being fed up with a system that doesn’t listen to us, doesn’t protect us and doesn’t offer solutions.”