MEXICO CITY – The public security strategy deployed by the Mexican capital’s authorities managed on Wednesday to foil the groups of vandals who tried to play havoc during a march to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, in which soldiers slew hundreds of unarmed civilians.
In the middle of the peaceful march held against the backdrop of Mexico City’s beautiful historic center, several hooded people infiltrated the crowd with the intention of disrupting the event by detonating firecrackers and rockets and painting graffiti.
To prevent vandalism and guarantee attendees’ security, the capital’s government deployed a group of 12,000 white-clad volunteers to form a “peace barrier.”
Historic buildings, businesses and government institutions were protected by metal fences and by a human fence of women and men dressed in white. Although the amateur security “guards” were inexperienced and seemed somewhat intimidated, this measure appeared to generally work in containing vandal acts.
During the march, the hooded protesters painted graffiti along the Eje Central avenue and the historic center’s streets, in addition to detonating loud firecrackers.
These explosions scared off some of the peace barrier’s members, who, out of fear of being attacked, broke ranks and took off their easily-identifiable white T-shirts.
The hooded provocateurs spraypainted institutional buildings such as the Postal Service’s headquarters and the Bank of Mexico, in addition to attacking police and members of the “peace barrier” with aerosols, but the damage was limited.
The peace barrier initiative to protect public property from vandals was launched after the last two demonstrations in Mexico City ended with the defacement of countless walls with graffiti and the widespread destruction of street furniture.
On Sept. 26, activists commemorated the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students.
Two days later, a massive march demanding the decriminalization of abortion took place.
Both demonstrations were taken advantage of by hooded self-styled anarchists.
For that reason, the mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced the deployment of the human cordon, an idea that also convinced the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said it could be an effective way to prevent damages to public property.
In fact, the president urged protesters to help “avoid troublemakers and not fall into provocations.”
Lopez Obrador warned the hooded men who cause trouble at the demonstrations, telling them to be “be careful” because he would not hesitate to tell their parents and grandparents so that they could reprimand them by pulling their ears.
The Tlatelolco massacre took place on Oct. 2, 1968, a mere 10 days before the start of the Summer Olympics in the Mexican capital, when the government decided to suppress dissent as part of its Dirty War.
Unarmed protesters were shot at by the armed forces at the Square of the Three Cultures in the city’s Tlatelolco neighborhood, leaving an undetermined death toll believed by most historians to be in the hundreds.