SANTIAGO – A police van was set on fire as hundreds of people took to the streets in the Chilean capital on Friday in fresh protests against the killing of a street juggler in alleged firing by cops last week.
The protesters in the central Plaza Italia in Santiago carried placards and shouted slogans against the officer, who allegedly shot dead Francisco Martinez, 27, during a routine identity check last week.
The killing sparked a wave of protests and calls for reforms of the militarized police force.
The demonstrations on Friday led to traffic restrictions in the Chilean capital while authorities closed some nearby Metro stations.
A large group of people peacefully occupied the center of Plaza Italia. But riots and clashes with police officers took place in nearby places.
But some people set a police van on fire as its occupants ran for shelter to escape the flames.
Last year, 20 people were killed and thousands wounded in street protests when the South American country plunged into one the most social crises since the end of the military dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
Rights bodies accused the security forces of widespread human rights violations during the protests.
For several weeks, the protests gathered around the Palacio de La Moneda, the seat of the government, to demand the resignation of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera and the release of those detained during the rallies.
Rights abuse accusations have returned as the demonstrations returned to Plaza Italia, the epicenter of the wave of protests since October 2019.
On Oct. 25 last year, Chile held a historic referendum, in which almost 80 percent of the population approved to amend the constitution, inherited from the Pinochet dictatorship.
The measure, politically agreed by the parties in November 2019, was intended to end the street demonstrations.
However, hundreds of people convene in the center of the capital every Friday for anti-government protests and the release of detainees.