Masked protesters recorded video and cheered as the burning spire of a Chilean church crashed to the ground Sunday night.
Protests and riots erupted in Chile’s capital city of Santiago over the weekend ahead of a referendum on whether to throw out the country’s constitution, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Demonstrators looted stores, vandalized buildings, and set churches on fire on the anniversary of the beginning of the massive 2019 protests against the government.
“This is an expression of brutality,” said Interior Minister Víctor Pérez, the publication reported.
“Today we must lament the violent acts, but we will confront them.”
Pérez also said that police had been deployed to protect the city’s subway, which has reportedly frequently been targeted by demonstrators.
Protesters cheered as they watched the burning spire of La Asunción church fall to the ground, according to The Journal.
Rioters also set San Francisco Borja church on fire, a church from the mid-19th century, the publication reported.
During protests in Santiago, Chile today to mark the 1 year anniversary of anti government protests the Iglesia de la Asunción (church of the assumption) was burnt down#Chile pic.twitter.com/nUYaiOMTRq
— CNW (@ConflictsW) October 19, 2020
About 25,000 protesters gathered in the Plaza Italia, the focus of last year’s protests, on Sunday holding banners that demand a new constitution, according to The Journal.
The 2019 protests resulted in billions of dollars in damages and over 30 deaths, the publication reported.
The protests and riots began led by high school-students angry over increases in subway prices, according to The Journal. The students were quickly joined by others, causing the protests to swell into massive crowds of Chileans.
The protests were mostly peaceful throughout the day, The Journal reported, but spiraled into violence after darkness descended on the city.
Police and groups of young men clashed during the night time protests, the publication reported.
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