A video of a Medellin police officer hitting a girl with his baton after a student protests Thursday surfaced on YouTube Friday causing outrage on internet forums.
The video shows motorcycle police officers from Medellin standing around a small crowd of young adults, one of whom is on the ground. A young girl appears in the scene and a police officer hits her in the face with his baton.
Seconds later, the uniformed officers hop onto their motorcycles and flee the scene leaving the injured student behind.
According to the person who posted the video, the action was filmed on Thursday evening after a day of student protests in the country.
National Police Chief, General Oscar Naranjo, announced Friday that he has dispatched a special police unit to Medellin to investigate the case and that they will apply all the administrative and disciplinary sancitions necessary against the officer.
Students of public universities accross the country have been protesting against President Juan Manuel Santos’ education reform that was introduced on March 10, 2011. The reform plans to open up funding for public universities to the private sector as well as make the curriculum more international to encourage Colombian competitiveness in the international job market.
Opponents say the new reform is an attack on the traditional public education of Colombia that is geared towards public service and social benefit. They fear that allowing the private sector to fund public education will divert funds from social projects and direct them towards projects that will benefit the companies funding the universities.
Vice President of the Association of Professors for the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Sara Yaneth Fernandez, told Colombia Reports at a protest in Medellin Thursday that, “Public education has a social interest. Private organizations have personal profit interests. We are against changing the essence of the public universities in Colombia.”
Thousands of students, faculty and union members marched in cities around Colombia on Thursday. Most protests were peaceful but incidents of tear gas being used were reported in Pereira, a city in the coffee region, and the capital city of Bogota.