Over 3,000 women marched in Mexico City on Monday to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and protest the country’s high levels of gender-based violence.
Although the majority of the protesters marched peacefully, a small group in black hoodies and face masks broke windows, vandalized bus stops, lit fires and vandalized historical monuments with graffiti.
The protest began around 5:00pm near the Angel of Independence monument on Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma avenue, which a similar women’s protest left vandalized in August.
Although authorities had wrapped many monuments in plastic ahead of the march, protesters used knives and fire to remove the plastic and paint them with graffiti.
The marchers arrived in the zócalo around 7:00pm, where they set up a bandstand as police hurried to protect the Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace with shields and fire extinguishers.
In a pronouncement made outside the National Palace, various women’s rights organizations voiced their demands that the government put an end to violence against women and forced disappearances.
“No more femicide! Not one less! We want to be alive. A life where the right to make decisions for our own bodies is not questioned by any dogma. A life where what is questioned is rape, not abortion, where the secularism of the state is respected,” they exclaimed.
“Today we raise an angry voice because we want safe abortion. We are in a time of emergency, the enemies are strong, they are many, they’re everywhere. We need a pact among women, to be together . . . We’re in a time of war . . . and we want to be alive, free and together,” they added.
The mother of a femicide victim recounted how her daughter’s partner, José Ramón, murdered her daughter and kept her body for days before being discovered.
Over 2,500 female police officers were deployed to maintain order and protect historical monuments and buildings during the protest.
“We’re policewomen and we are eliminating violence!” they chanted as they attempted to repel the protesters by discharging fire extinguishers at them.
Although no arrests were made, police did seize a number of hammers, mallets, knives and other objects used to vandalize public property.
A group of 2,000 female volunteers in white shirts meant to represent peace joined the efforts of police to calm the protesters, but they withdrew once the vandalism began.
Despite confrontations between protesters and security forces, only two people were injured during the protest, one protester and a reporter.