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Intro: "Spanish police fired rubber bullets and swung truncheons to disperse anti-crisis protesters in a Barcelona square Friday as cleaning crews cleared their tent camp."

A protester shows his blood-covered hands while policemen forcibly try to dismantle a protest camp in Barcelona, Spain, 05/27/11. (photo: Josep Lago/AFP)
A protester shows his blood-covered hands while policemen forcibly try to dismantle a protest camp in Barcelona, Spain, 05/27/11. (photo: Josep Lago/AFP)



Spanish Police Fire Rubber Bullets at Protesters

By Marcelo Aparicio, Agence France-Presse

27 May 11

 

panish police fired rubber bullets and swung truncheons to disperse anti-crisis protesters in a Barcelona square Friday as cleaning crews cleared their tent camp.

Catalan police in anti-riot gear moved in after about 50 protesters sat down on the street to block a convoy of cleaning trucks leaving the Plaza de Cataluna square with remnants of the encampment.

Police, some with plastic shields, were shown on television dragging protesters along the street and swiping with truncheons at activists, who had been chanting: "They shall not pass."

An AFP reporter at the scene saw rubber bullets fired.

The protest blockade was broken up within minutes but about 100 protesters regrouped in the square. They were surrounded by two police cordons blocking hundreds more people from entering from nearby roads.

Demonstrators chanted: "The people, united, will never be defeated!" and "No to violence!"

Cleaning crews with 10 lorries dismantled the last of the tents under police surveillance. Later, police left the square and let thousands of demonstrators flood in.

By the evening, at least 5,000 people were in the square protesting against the police intervention, some having put up tents. A dozen police vehicles were in streets leading to the square.

"What happened today was awful but it is a warning" for the country's leadership, said Ramon Deltran, 50, a psychiatrist.

"This is what police brutality achieves, that much more people protest. But also it is the fault of the politicians who don't listen to us," said Maite Loureiro, 30, an unemployed designer.

In Madrid's Puerta del Sol square, hundreds of demonstrators, many carrying flowers, shouted "Barcelona is not alone."

Ten people were taken to hospital after the Barcelona clashes, mostly for multiple bruises and psychological shock, said a Catalan emergency medical services spokeswoman.

A total of 87 people including one police officer were treated, mostly for light injuries, she said.

"Their cleaning has washed up blood, people bleeding from the head," said a comment on the Barcelona protest's Twitter account "acampadabcn".

It was the first attempt by police to clear demonstrators from a nationwide movement that began May 15 and grew in city squares across the country.

Police said they had to clear the encampment in case Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League football finals at Wembley on Saturday and the square was needed for celebrations.

They also swooped on an encampment in Lleida, in the same northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, where the Plaza Ricard Vinyes was cleared for possible football celebrations.

"Once the cleaning is finished they can go back but without the tents, knives and potentially dangerous objects," a police spokeswoman said in Barcelona.

Activists vowed to return.

"They are making us leave because of the match but we will come back again here or elsewhere because our match is more important," said Albert Bonet, a 42-year-old artist who was in the protest.

The demonstrators are known variously as "the indignant", "M-15" after the birth date of their movement, and "Spanish Revolution".

Mostly young people, they have gathered in city squares across Spain in peaceful protests to decry mainstream political parties, soaring unemployment, corruption and welfare cuts.

At the vanguard of the rallies in Madrid, protesters remained camped in the central square Puerta del Sol but in smaller numbers than at the peak just before Spain's May 22 general elections.

In the municipal and regional polls, voters punished the ruling Socialist Party for the grim economy and handed a huge victory to the conservative opposition Popular Party.

Madrid protesters say they plan to decide Sunday how to carry on the movement.

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+1 # Activista 2011-05-27 19:15
It is safer to protest in Cairo than in Madrid or Barcelona.
 
 
0 # stannadel 2011-05-28 06:13
Quoting Activista:
It is safer to protest in Cairo than in Madrid or Barcelona.

No it isn't, a lot more people were injured in Cairo than in Barcelona and nobody has been injured in Madrid so far.
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2011-05-28 09:24
Unfortunately, this "socialist" government is employing tactics more befitting Franco than any progressive attempts to address the busted bubble.
When I lived in Spain -my favorite country by far and where I hope to end my days- (late 60's early 70's) Franco was still in power and you'd often talk to elders who would break out in tears recalling the brutal civil war which brought El Caudillo to power, back to the church-dominate d dark ages, and in which "¡hermano lucho hermano!". I hope that the powers that be can be reminded of this and act like a progressive force (and ignore the incursions of the IMF!).
 
 
+2 # Activista 2011-05-28 11:12
and USA (Kissinger) supported Franco - and we wonder - why they hate US
 
 
+1 # Texas Aggie 2011-05-28 15:14
The article was completely opaque on what exactly is being protested. "Anti-crisis protesters" doesn't tell a whole lot.
 

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