Fired Mexican Officer Hangs on Cross to Protest Police Corruption
Oct. 05, 1995
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A dismissed policeman in uniform tied himself to a 20-foot wooden cross on a downtown boulevard Wednesday to protest alleged police corruption.
In dress blues and police cap, Ricardo Chaires Coria, 36, hung in mock crucifixion for hours while nine fellow officers announced they were on a hunger strike to demonstrate against unjust dismissals.
City workers hauled him down just before rush hour, but nearly strangled him in the effort and he briefly lost consciousness. Traffic slowed and snarled around the scene before the Independence Monument on the Paseo de la Reforma.
The demonstration prompted reactions ranging from rage to bafflement.
``Get back to work!'' one motorist shouted. ``Stay there until you fry!'' another shouted as Chaires perched on a small pedestal on the cross, sweating in the afternoon heat, his arms lashed to the cross by ropes.
``If God sacrified himself for us, one honest policeman can sacrifice himself for his colleagues,'' said Carlos Alarcon Ocampos, an officer who claimed he was unfairly dismissed after being injured in a motorcycle accident.
The officers said they had begun a liquids-only fast outside the U.S. Embassy a week earlier but had gotten no response from superiors on the Mexico City force appealing the dismissals.
They said they were dismissed over a period of three years on various charges, but that corrupt officers had allowed them no sufficient appeal.
At about 6 p.m., city workers arrived with a crane and pulled Chaires down. But when they untied his arms, he lashed the rope around his neck. As workers pulled him back in the crane's basket, the rope drew taught around his neck.
He passed out and remained for a time sprawled on the median strip as friends revived him with water.
Some bystanders applauded what they perceived as a unusual protest against police corruption.
Mexicans historically have expressed wide distrust of police, who are often accused of corruption and criminal acts from shaking down motorists for bribes to committing violent crimes.
Last Thursday, a police officer was charged in a shooting spree aboard a Mexico City subway car that left three people dead and six wounded. The suspect said he was despondent, but the attack raised questions about the selection and training of officers.