The coverage of Javier’s death focused on the fact that he was a family man with a university degree in Aeronautical Engineering, that he had always worked very hard to raise his two children, and that he was about to graduate from another degree in Law. Images with phrases like ‘no university degree can protect you from police brutality’ became viral on social media, and headlines such as ‘Who was Javier Ordóñez, the lawyer who died after a police process in Bogotá?’, and “This was Javier Ordóñez, the lawyer and father who died after being beaten by police in Bogotá” appeared in both national and international media outlets. Although this coverage gives the victim the dignity he deserves and should be this way in all cases, it is very different from the coverage that most other victims of police brutality in the country have received, victims whose deaths did not provoke the same outrage that Javier’s death did due to their differing life circumstances.
The case of Anderson Arboleda in Puerto Tejada, about 500 kilometers from the country’s capital is one of the most recent. This young Afro-Colombian man, only 19 years old, was allegedly brutally beaten to death by the police for violating quarantine rules. Anderson was a hard-working young man finishing high school to help his family get ahead, and he was serving in the military while selling clothes and sneakers to make ends meet. A sociable and cheerful young man, he loved spending time with his family. Anderson had a good relationship with everyone around him.
Shortly after, in Puerto Tejada, another 22-year-old Afro-Colombian man, Janner García, was allegedly murdered by police officers. Janner was a professional athlete with a very bright future ahead of him as a goalkeeper, and he was also working very hard to give his family a better future. The coverage of both deaths focused much more on how they were killed than on who they were, and although a small protest against the brutal murders was called in Puerto Tejada, habitants of the capital, Bogotá, decided not to take to the streets this time. So why weren’t we as outraged when Anderson and Janner were killed? Who decides which victim of police brutality is more worthy, and which is less?