NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There have been violent demonstrations across the country of Colombia for more than a week.

Hundreds protesting new taxes have reportedly been injured and more than a dozen killed.

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The images of protesters being attacked have shocked people in New York City and around the world, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported Friday.

The violence in Colombia has been overwhelming.

“The stories that they’re telling me, verified stories, are of women being raped in response to some of these protests, of people being killed, literally shot at,” said Assembly Member Catalina Cruz. “Not in defense or self-defense, but shot at while they’re in the street trying to protest peacefully.”

Here in the city, hundreds flocked to Times Square to make their voices heard and to denounce the violence at the hands of government forces.

Cruz said the demonstrations are in part over a new tax plan that would have hurt the working middle class – an effort to pay for debt incurred during the pandemic. But even the lack of a response to that has caused frustration.

“The only person out of my big family who’s been able to get a vaccine is my grandfather. No one else,” Cruz said. “So you have a system like that, it makes the people back home angry. It makes them desperate and they’re sick of it.

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In Jackson Heights, Queens, many plan to make their voices heard. The neighborhood is home to the largest Colombian community outside the country. Those ties motivated people to speak out.

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“This is what we can do in order to make sure that they keep basic internet in order to keep communicating with us, which was a problem a few days ago,” said State Sen. Jessica Ramos. “The government had shut down the internet.”

Ramos, a Colombian American, said it’s her hope the international community can do more. She’s not alone.

Catherine Juvinao, an activist in Bogota, said rallies all over the world, including in New York City, have made a difference in what’s been a truly troubling time.

Juvinao said what we’re witnessing play out on social media is a massacre in real time. She hopes they can bring about change through peaceful protests.

Another rally and a candlelight vigil are planned for Friday evening in Jackson Heights.

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CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team