Worrisome Brutality of Anti-Riot Police in Spain

This story is part of our special coverage of Europe In Crisis.

Since the start of the crisis that has hit Europe, with demonstrations in the Mediterranean countries, the most affected have multiplied. In Spain, the mass protests started on 15th May 2011 with the movimiento 15M [es] (15th May movement). The violent eviction from the Puerta del Sol in Madrid ended with a second large-scale rally that transformed into a campsite right in the centre of Madrid – and it extended to almost every Spanish city and to many others in Europe for several months.

On 14th November, during the general strike called across Europe, demonstrations in every city of the country were suppressed, as has become the norm, with a severity that could be judged as excessive. In Tarragona, where the regional police – the Mossos d’Esquadra (the police force of Catalonia) – are entrusted with public order, a child of 13 years ended up with a head injury and had to be attended in the hospital. In the following video, which has gone viral, a policeman hits a boy and two others beat a young woman, who is also underage, with their batons. The young woman questions their brutality [es]:

Both the parents of the child and the young woman, assaulted for defending the boy, have filed a complaint against the aggressive police officers [es]. In Barcelona, a woman might lose her vision in one eye due to a rubber bullet. The violent episodes have multiplied in Madrid.

Barcelona, mujer herida que podría perder un ojo. Foto de la página de Facebook «AntenapezTV»

Barcelona, an injured woman who could lose an eye. Photo from the Facebook page ‘AntenapezTV’

Madrid: Una mujer cae por las escaleras del metro tras ser empujada por un policía. Foto del la página de Facebook «15M: Marcha Bruselas»

Madrid: a woman falls down the steps of the metro after being pushed by a policeman. Photo from the Facebook page '15M: Marcha Bruselas’

Madrid: Los antidisturbios rodean a un joven caído en el suelo. Foto de la página de Facebook «AntenapezTV»

Madrid: anti-riot police surround a young man fallen on the ground. Photo from the Facebook page ‘AntenapezTV’

Madrid: Un policía patea a una joven mientras dos manifestantes intentan salvarla. Foto de la página de Facebook «AntenapezTV»

Madrid: a policeman kicks a young woman while two protesters try to save her. Photo from the Facebook page ‘AntenapezTV’

In this video we observe a worrying lack of self-control from a police officer who assaults a protester without there appearing to be any reason for such cruelty:


These types of events have evoked an uncountable number of comments on the Internet. For example, Jordi Lucena Pallas on the Facebook page ‘Felip Puig Dimissió‘ says:

Estos cuerpos de seguridad, de pequeños querían ser policias para proteger a los buenos y coger a los malos? Su familia debe estar muy orgullosa de ellos…Tendriamos que plantearnos revisar las pruebas psicotecnicas de accceso y a los que ya estan dentro volver a evaluar porque si no llevaran uniforme viendo segun que imagenes diriamos que son violentos y les echariamos a los antidisturbios…

These security bodies, did they really want to become policemen from a young age to protect the good people and to catch the evil? Their families must be very proud of them… we should consider making changes to the aptitude tests for access and re-evaluate those who are already members because… if they didn't wear a uniform, seeing the violent images, would lead to handing them over to the anti-riot police.

Another comment from José Carlos Pérez Silva on ‘No hay pan para tanto chorizo‘:

Si no son y saben ser profesionales, que se vayan a las ramblas a poner el ojete. h de p.

If they aren't and they don't know how to be professional, they should get stuffed. SOB's.

And it is the Spanish who are beginning to feel very worried about the growing brutality that they witness from the security forces that should be protecting them. The police force, one of the most feared and stigmatised institutions in the era of the dictatorship, has taken many years to gain trust in Spain. But the behaviour of some of its members during the protests in recent years is eroding this good relationship, which has cost so much time and effort.

The general perception is that during these years, the police force has been letting in too many people who do not reach the high standards of professionalism and self-control necessary for any member of the security forces of a democratic state.

As El Rey Bufón comments on ‘Ser policía, vergüenza me daría‘:

El gobierno y la oligarquía para la que trabaja tienen tan poca vergüenza, que sólo tienen miedo… Y a mayor miedo, mayor represión…

The government and the oligarchy for which they work have so little shame, that they only have fear… and with greater fear comes greater repression…

The fact that both national and regional police systematically hide their ID cards, which the law obliges them to keep in sight, that many photographers – including those from the accredited press – have been victims of aggressive acts, and that the head of the police said a few weeks ago that they were considering banning the filming of police officers whilst working, gives the impression that the police force wishes for anonymity in order to remain unpunished.

The protesters report the presence of infiltrating police officers in the protests, as the general secretary of the Police Union himself has admitted in an interview with the newspaper ‘Público’ [es]. The problem is that many testimonies allege that on occasions it has been the infiltrators who have started the riots, giving excuses to their colleagues to charge the protesters.

Amnesty International has reported [es] this situation on many occasions. Currently it has a signature petition [es] in circulation, which requests that the Ministry of the Interior take measures to prevent political violence, and that when acts of violence occur, disciplinary procedures are guaranteed to those involved.

For many Spaniards of a certain age, the attitude of the police is turning out to be alarmingly familiar because it reminds them of the dictatorship of Franco. And many fear that the Spanish people are losing confidence in their security forces and that they will withdraw the support that has taken so long to achieve.

Los «grises» del 76 VS. los antidisturbios del siglo XXI. Foto de la página de Facebook «AntenapezTV»

The ‘greys’ of 1976 and the anti-riot police of the 21st Century. Photo from Facebook page ‘AntenapezTV’

This story is part of our special coverage of Europe In Crisis.


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