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Mexico memory march ends in violence

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Thousands of Mexicans took to the streets Thursday to demand justice for the victims of a mass killing by government troops on the night of Oct. 2 40 years ago.

Survivors of that bloody night and Mexicans who had not been born then joined forces, chanting ‘Dos de octubre! No se olvide!’ (Oct. 2! Don’t forget!) as they converged on the downtown Zocalo plaza, report Tracy Wilkinson and Deborah Bonello.

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But the protests in Mexico City had a bitter end, with a small number of participants exchanging blows with police, breaking shop windows and spraying graffiti on walls.

El Universal reports that 20 people were arrested by plainclothes police and that one person was injured in a fracas in the Zocalo, where the march was scheduled to end.

Pictures on the website of the newspaper Reforma (subscription only) show youths lobbing empty cans and spraying aerosols at police, who the newspaper said had been ordered not to respond to aggression from protesters.

Other images picture young protesters breaking the window of a convenience store and then entering it to help themselves to the goods inside.

Oct. 2 is still dreaded by some Mexicans as a day of potential disaster after the 1968 massacre in which police and soldiers opened fire on hundreds of men, women, children and students during a demonstration. No one has ever been held legally responsible for what is one of the bloodiest episodes in recent Mexican history.

As our report notes, some parents kept their children home from school Thursday in fear that something bad could happen.

The annual march is held in memory of those who died that night. But the event has become a date that many groups use to champion other causes and dissenting political views. The nature of the tragedy 40 years ago means that hostility and resentment are often directed toward the police sent to watch over the memorial protest.

Read Thursday’s report on the march in memory of those who were killed on the night of Oct. 2, 1968, here.

Click here for more on Mexico.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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