22M Dignity Marches Gather a Million Peaceful Protesters in Madrid; Government of Spain Answers with Riot Police Violence

0

BjWd4R5IgAA4UOW (1)

The day began with tons of energy as the Dignity Marches prepared to take Madrid. But it didn’t take long to realize the Spanish government wasn’t going to make this easy, as reports started coming in of buses travelling to the marches being stopped, searched and the people inside identified by the Civil Guard on the outskirts of Madrid. The 22M organization put out a press release saying that around 100 buses were being detained in this manner, and that they wouldn’t take any responsibility for delays caused by this cheap tactic.

This didn’t even dent the energy of the marches, however. They kept moving towards Madrid, some meeting up along the way (there were several of them, coming from different points of Spain).

 2

 

Some people in the marches even took the opportunity to occupy an apartment building.

+

 

The firefighters also joined the marches, helping out with safeguarding it (from the police, most likely). The people like them a lot, because they have refused themselves from helping with evictions and have had some mediatic confrontations with police during protests.

Bombeiros

 

International solidarity also flooded the social networks from many different places, often involving those who were forced into emigration because of austerity.

After the marches made their way into Madrid, they started moving towards Atocha, a large train station / boulevard in the center of the city. It was then that it became obvious that this was no ordinary protest. One old man told a friend he hadn’t seen anything like this since the civil war times.

Headed by giant banners with a firemen escort, the marches started moving towards Colón square, 2,5km away from Atocha.

BjWKn6FIUAAFD0F

At this time, the police kept quiet, simply blockading ministries along the protest route, as well as the Popular Party headquarters.

Colón square started to fill up, but there were still many people who hadn’t even left Atocha yet! That was when people started calling it the Million March. A precise count is impossible, but estimates point to between one and two million people on the streets.

BjW2bL7CYAAHxQf

 

BjWp3doIEAAK6V1

 

BjWptXIIEAAG9Si

 

As the speeches of the people who had participated in the columns began, news arrived via the newspaper Publico.es that police had given the deadline of 21:30 for the organizers to disperse the protest. Afterwards, the protest would be considered illegal.

But then other news arrived. People were assembling a camp at Recoletos.

Abruptly, while the organizers were still speaking at the stage, the police started firing rubber bullets into the crowd, beating people up and detaining them. Many accuse them of using agents provocateurs in order to get pretext for this, which isn’t unusual in Spain. The organizers asked for the police to leave the square because they were conducting a perfectly legal and legitimate protest, but it was useless – police just kept escalating. The time was around 20:30, one hour before the deadline.

Why did the police take action early? It might be possible they just saw an opportunity to escalate and took it, but it is also possible that the news of the encampment going up in Recoletos made them jump into action. Governments can take a one day protest, however massive it is, but the prospect of a new camp occupation like the one at Sol in 2011 (where a lot of organizing was done which would bear fruit later), might have been a more worrisome prospect, demanding immediate action.

So besides clearing the whole route of the protest, from Atocha to Colón, the police also charged the camp at Recoletos.

10150530_527311140721263_1641462583_n

They followed their usual procedure in Spain: lots of rubber bullets, some charges and tear gas usage, trying to clear the people from the main streets into narrower, more isolated ones where they can abuse their powers without cameras around. However, the people also fought back in several confrontations, like in this video where they charge the police chanting “Long live the struggle of the working class!”

More actions have been called for the next few days, such as general assemblies and a siege of the Madrid stock exchange. The tone of the protests is definitely getting fiercer, with the people more aggressive in their demands and progressively more fed up with shows of force such as the one tonight.

BjXHxJDCIAAedfG

Share.

About Author

Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News - Contact us with inquiries, tips, corrections at - revnewsmedia@gmail.com