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Spain: Images of Police Brutality During General Strike

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

On #29M (29 March) Spain's trade unions called a general strike in protest against the Labour Reform introduced by Mariano Rajoy's (of the Popular Party) government. This strike was the first that the government has faced, and only 100 days after Rajoy came to power.

The massive demonstrations held all over the country came as a result of measures adopted by the Executive, which in its eagerness to take the quickest route out of the economic crisis and to create jobs has deregulated the labour market, made it easier to fire workers, increased employer's flexibility to increase working hours, decreased wages, encouraged the mobility of workers, and facilitated the hiring of young people on work experience placements for longer periods.

Groups of citizen movements not linked to the main trade unions, such as ¡Democracia Real Ya! [True Democracy Now!] joined the strike in the so-called ‘Critical block’ [es]. Throughout the day of the strike, in which a majority of workers participated, there were numerous moments of tension, especially in Barcelona where riot police clashed with protesters. Once again, the security agents failed to wear their identification badges.

Protesters wounded by rubber bullets during the general strike, Barcelona. Photo Jesús G. Pastor, copyright Demotix 3/29/12.

Protesters wounded by rubber bullets during the general strike, Barcelona. Photo Jesús G. Pastor, copyright Demotix 3/29/12.

During the day, which passed peacefully in the majority of cities, there were confrontations between various groups. In the following video we present the case of the firefighters, who were protesting the cuts that they are suffering, and who were also the target of violence by the riot police who charged and beat them:

In the next two videos filmed by activists, we can see that the police were carrying electric batons. In the first video, protesters surround them while we see two police officers (the slowest) running away. The second video, filmed from the opposite perspective, shows the four at the head of the crowd (a blonde woman and three men), an attack on a protester who falls to the ground, and the two from the first video slightly behind the others. The protesters discover once again a group of police officers infiltrated in the crowd to attack protesters and heighten tensions so that the subsequent police charge would be in some way justified. (Source: http://www.tercerainformacion.es/spip.php?article35508 [es]):

Another video shows the statement made from hospital by a protester who was hit by a rubber bullet fired by police during the strike in Barcelona. He has two broken ribs and a punctured lung.

@ARMAKdeODELOT: MUY GRAVE PASALO @DemocraciaReal: Joven de 19 años ingresado en UCI, estado muy grave,derrame cerebral, tras carga policial en Vitoria #29M

@ARMAKdeODELOT: VERY SERIOUS, PLEASE SHARE @DemocraciaReal: Young man aged 19 admitted to UCI, very serious condition, brain haemorrhage, following police charge in Vitoria #29M

And in the following video we see riot police shooting two rounds of rubber bullets at two cyclists with no motive whatsoever:

@Fotomovimiento: Nuestros queridos mossos hoy en Plaça Catalunya.. Y ahora que salga Trias y los defienda..Indignante! #29Mhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_bLULITkh4

@Fotomovimiento: Our beloved police force today in Plaça Catalunya.. Let Trias come out and defend them now.. Get angry! #29Mhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_bLULITkh4

During the 29M protests, 3 of the 41 young people detained were given custodial sentences. The charges were not based on what they had done (they were arrested on the morning of the 29), but on what happened in Barcelona's streets in the evening following their detention.

The magistrate overseeing the case alleged that there was a risk of reoffending, as the accused could cause a breach of the peace during other events in Barcelona in the coming weeks. A number of groups involved with the law have published a joint statement defending the detainees [es]. In the weeks following the strike, there have been protests in various Spanish cities against the imprisonment of protesters.

Protest in Madrid against the arrest of 176 people in Spain (57 in Madrid) during 29M events. Photo by Alberto Sibaja Ramírez, copyright Demotix 3/30/2012.

Protest in Madrid against the arrest of 176 people in Spain (57 in Madrid) during 29M events. Photo by Alberto Sibaja Ramírez, copyright Demotix 3/30/2012.

A website has been created to document the cases of indiscriminate violence [es] that ocurred on the day of the strike.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

  • http://vanityfea.blogspot.com JoseAngel

    Don’t be mistaken or manipulated: most of the violence in the general strike was due to the action of intimidating picketeers trying to force other people to join the strike against their will, and smashing windows of shops and banks they found open. Most of the police violence comes from action taken to prevent these violent actions started by a minority of demonstrators. Anyone who believes that violent pickets will kindly obey polite suggestions from the police that they should refrain from attacking other people is seriously out of touch with reality.

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