Epic video & pics from Spanish anti-austerity protests


8:30 am - September 26th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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Tens of thousands of protesters from across Spain gathered in Madrid yesterday night against severe austerity measures by the government.

They accused politicians of ‘destroying’ Spain with brutal program cuts and tax hikes.

Madrid riot police clashed with protesters in central Madrid last night, with at least 14 people reported injured and 22 arrested as police used batons and rubber bullets.

Video
This video shows a clash between the police and protesters.

It kicks off around 1:30 and near the end, some police start getting beaten by Spanish people.

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(via @ladyditax)
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Pictures

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Images from Russia Today

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I somehow didn’t get what the protesters’ recommendation for a solution of Spain’s budget problem was.

Gestapo doing well for the politicians again, if in doubt send in the Police. Of course once they start to have cuts they will call on the public to back them.

Andreas Moser : doesn’t matter what they say or want, no one is listening. Obviously you don’t get it.

Remember people, go for the joints, kicks to the side of the knees can be very effective.

This kind of thing really annoys me. You can’t go on a big demonstration nowadays without some people wanting it to get like I’ve just seen in that video.
The people on the left with the red flags and the plastic shields are the ones who have brought this situation about. And the police look like they react far too heavily, which is just the kind of reaction those trouble makers wanted I guess. So they can talk then of ”fascist cops” etc.
I was in Athens recently and all the far left’s posters all over the city showed images of this kind of police violence. They love it.
”ACAB” is a popular graffiti slogan.
They like it in the same way that football hooligans like the same kind of violent drama.

I know that riot police the world over have a tendency to be brutal. What’s new? It’s a shame that protests can’t be peaceful. The police are partly to blame, and so are the people who want to provoke the police – making this violence the talking point, not the politics of the demonstration.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ damon

“I was in Athens recently and all the far left’s posters all over the city showed images of this kind of police violence. They love it.”

…And then it gets called ‘epic’ on a UK blog. Which I thought was a bit gushing.

@6. Chaise Guevara: “…And then it gets called ‘epic’ on a UK blog. Which I thought was a bit gushing.”

Definition of epic: a tale that goes on for so long that you nod off a bit. Epic is a useful word when used appropriately.

Perhaps somebody who recognises Spanish badges can give me a hand on this, but the police officers in the photos appear to be Guardia Civil, a semi-military organisation. They ain’t local coppers.

In Spain, any public event will be attended by Guardia Civil: they do not trust anyone. They make their presence known; black buttons on black shirts.

Resolution is a Spanish problem. Or is it? Spaniards have to liberate themselves by declaring unjust police practice, or simply recognise that all police bodies operate by the same rules.

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 Charlieman

“Definition of epic: a tale that goes on for so long that you nod off a bit. Epic is a useful word when used appropriately.”

Heh, yeah. But I’m picking up a certain ring of approval in the title. Maybe it’s just me.

Chaise: ”…And then it gets called ‘epic’ on a UK blog. Which I thought was a bit gushing.”

Well there are people who think that demonstrations need violence and drama to make them more high profile.
I believe Sunny defended the ”breaking of a few windows” at the Millbank tower at the student demo in London a couple of years ago, as it pushed the story on to the front pages and showed ”how angry” students were.

I totally reject that myself. I wouldn’t always have perhaps, but now if I go on a protest, I don’t want to be any where near where people are causing this kind of agro. The police ALWAYS overreact. That’s what police are like. I know the UK police can be brutal, I’ve seen it at first hand.

But IMO, the real taklking point here should be about why is it that people want demonstrations to get violent. What good does it do?
I see there was more violence in Athens yesterday too.
Why are those protesters trying to burn policemen to death with petrol bombs? Are they mental or something?
Or trying to knock a policeman’s teeth down his throat with a brick? That level of violence is disgusting.

Riot police are violent. I have no problem saying that and I think thay are often way too brutal and indiscriminate in who they hit and batter. But ”taking them on” should never be something that is done on a demonstration when there are thousands of people around who don’t want violence.

When I was in Athens in the summer, ther was no rioting that week, but there were riot policemen all around the place, hanging out in the side streets wearing only part of their riot gear, and sipping iced coffees and juces, talking together and smoking cigarettes, and guess what? They look just like ordinary young people. They have a job and people try to kill or maim them because of it.

That aside, those Spanish police do act like brutes there in that footage.

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 9 damon

I’ve heard reasons offered for violent protest, like the idea that it gets more media coverage. I think these are rationalisations, though.

Why do some people get violent at protests? The same reason some people get violent at football matches, or down the pub. The same reason that groups like the EDL and UAF seem to have members who go on marches specifically in the hope that things will kick off. People like violence. People especially like violence when they’re ganging up with like-minded souls on some hated enemy group.

I’d say it’s a bit more nuanced than that Chaise.
There are obviously a lot of people who think that standing your ground, or even being provocative to the police is an essential part of leftish political demonstration. And that even goes in a much milder way to people like UK uncut, who while not violent, will like to shout and make a fuss, and fall to the floor if police or any kind of security people try to move them on or evict them.
It’s part of the ”Just Do It” ethos even.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzUVqGXPWwY

That kind of activism and civil disobedience is stongly supported by the mods on this site.
Which is only a step bellow smashing a few windows like which happened at the beginning of the London G20 demo in London in 2009, which ended with the death of Ian Tomlinson.

Several of the other big G20 type meetings have been marred by violent anarchist/Black Block protesters, which mean that the thing ends up in a huge riot.
And of course horribly violent thuggish police ”reprisals” like that which occured in Genoa in 2001, where the police beat sleeping activists in a building they were spending the night in – and where the police shot dead a local Italian young man who was attacking a policeman sitting in a Jeep – with a fire extinguisher.
If you try to beat the brains out of a policeman with a fire extinguisher he or his colleagues may shoot you.
Why was there that level of violence?
I have yet to read any real analysis of this kind of violence on LC.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 damon

“I’d say it’s a bit more nuanced than that Chaise.”

Really? This isn’t meant as snark, but I’m not seeing extra nuance in your post. It still seems to come out as “people like being the centre of attention and getting to hit other people”.

“There are obviously a lot of people who think that standing your ground, or even being provocative to the police is an essential part of leftish political demonstration. ”

Or rightist, if you’re talking about the EDL for example. This ain’t a left/right thing. It’s a major part of human nature. It’s to do with being cool, and pulling girls/guys, and just the fact that people get satisfaction from violence. The fact that people enjoy it is unavoidable and probably untreatable. The problem is that people are immoral enough to indulge those instincts by hurting others.

I disagree a bit Chaise. And I’m not talking about right wing demonstrations, I’m talking about the ones that the mods on this website would support.
And I think who will support a certain amount of upping the ante and the drama at a demo like the student ones, to make it more dramitic and newsworthy.
And then of course can come the youtubes of policemen behaving violently. Because they always do. The police always get too heavy and have always done so.

My main point is though that I can’t remember any real analysis or condemnation of the violence at demos and those people who go on them and want there to be trouble. The silly people who cover their faces and wear black etc. When I saw that crowd at the G20 in London were breaking the windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland I knew that it was going to get ugly and ruin the whole protest. (I was not there, but listening to the radio at home).
And sure enough then came the kettling and all the eyewitness acccounts and film footage of disorder and police heavy handedness.

All I remember on sites like this was condemnation of the police. Which ends up being pretty boring because we know that’s how the police behave to disorder. They get nasty.

And so to with this demonstration in Spain. The ”hooligans” gave the riot police the excuse to wade into the wider demonstration and attack people.
But no one here mentioned that.

@9. damon: “But IMO, the real taklking point here should be about why is it that people want demonstrations to get violent. What good does it do?”

If you believe in politics via debate, violence serves no purpose and it may be destructive. It is destructive to conversation with an adversary, and politics ultimately requires that differing parties hold a conversation.

Violence in demos is the weapon used by those who wish to deny political debate. By extremist protestors, it is a ploy to show that political debate is impossible and that disputes can only be resolved by physical power. Defenders of police/military violence proclaim that they are just managing events.

So there are two extreme positions, engulfing the vast majority of protestors and a lot of coppers. Remember also that there are many public events when nothing kicks off. Sensible people are still the majority.

Yes Charlieman …. the thing is though, I get the impression that LC mods have supported a certain amount of agro at political demos. As it just shows how ”angry” people are. Maybe not petrol bombs and potentially deadly violence, but enough to ”set off” our very over-sensitive police.
Pushing, shoving, throwing a few things, the odd window getting smashed – general argy-bargy.
Then the police will kettle and behave too aggressively and we can then have breathy eyewitness accounts in New Statesman etc about how rough the police are.

Alfie Meadows had his skill cracked in by a brutal policeman (like happened to a pro-hunt supporter there before), but he was pictured beforehand in a balaclava, fronting up to the police. He asked for it in other words. Not that I support the police cracking skulls when they are in little danger themselves and it’s only a minor disturbance, but he was being a pain in the arse and creating trouble.

I think people on the left should discuss this trouble that is caused on demos, quite urgently.
But I know it can’t be stopped, because the ”direct action” thing is too strong.

Try to argue that the EDL should be allowed to march, as they have no power if you basicly ignore them… and you’ll be in a very small minority.
Enough people have vested interests for using protest (like the anti-EDL ones) as a vehicle for their politics. Like the SWP.
http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=29460

CG @ 8:

“I’m picking up a certain ring of approval in the title. Maybe it’s just me.”

Nope, not just you. ‘Epic’ carries connotations of ‘heroic’ (Homer, Milton, Virgil). Even in urban slang.

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 TONE

Agreed. I’m still waiting for Sunny or someone to come on here and claim that they meant that the riots were “big”, and just happened to pick that word.

CG @ 17:

Methinks you’ll wait a long time. I suspect large swathes of the ‘Parliamentary left’ are what I call the ‘sub-revolutionary left’: quite happy to go along with elections and democracy, but liable unreflectingly to be politically stimulated and aroused by violent extra-Parliamentary action.

In part, and I know I digress, I think this accounts for the fulsome obituaries of Eric Hobsbawm. The man was a ghastly, unrepentant Stalinist, yet he is mourned. If he had been just as scholarly but an unrepentant fascist, I somehow doubt his death would have received so much attention…

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 TONE

“I suspect large swathes of the ‘Parliamentary left’ are what I call the ‘sub-revolutionary left’: quite happy to go along with elections and democracy, but liable unreflectingly to be politically stimulated and aroused by violent extra-Parliamentary action.”

Probably. People just find that stuff exciting, and it allows them to get enjoyably outraged regardless of whose side they’re on.

“In part, and I know I digress, I think this accounts for the fulsome obituaries of Eric Hobsbawm.”

I know nothing about the man, but obituaries in general tend to be pretty fulsome. Can you imagine how disingenuous the BBC tribute to Prince Phillip is going to be, for example?

CG @ 20:

“People just find that stuff exciting, and it allows them to get enjoyably outraged regardless of whose side they’re on.”

That sounds like the old moral equivalence schtick.

Many of us – right and left – do not find violence at all stimulating, but sickening. So, No, political violence is wrong – unless the regime is hugely oppressive.

And I would hope that all reasonable people on here would agree with that.

As for Hobsbawm, the comparison with Prince Philip is misplaced. Show me even a right-ish academic whose death has received such coverage…I simply can’t imagine such tributes to (say) Roger Scruton, when he dies. My point is that often (some) social democrats see revolutionary socialists as somehow romantic – as committed to some noble but nebulous ideal of “equality” or “socialism”, when in fact they were ghastly authoritarians and fascists (the circular theory of politics).

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 20 TONE

Many find it sickening, sure, but many find it thrilling, as the popularity of action movies will attest to. I personally suspect that UKIP and EDL members are motivated to go on marches less for political reasons and more for the feeling of camaraderie with the possibility of a good ol’ ruck at the end of it. Regardless of what they’d tell you.

As for the coverage, TBH I don’t know how big it’s been. Metro had a smallish article and the Daily Mash wrote something sarcastic about it, that’s all I’ve seen.

CG @ 21:

“Many find it sickening, sure, but many find it thrilling, as the popularity of action movies will attest to.”

Sadly, yes. OT, I know: but the portrayal of violence on TV and in film concerns me. Sex (which is basically creative) is censored while hideous violence is casually portrayed. I find that rather bizarre – that it is believed that a child might be more disturbed by the sight of the two-backed beast than by gross slaughter by gun or sword. Not that I think children should be exposed to either; but the former is surely less harmful than the latter, and why censor the former if you aren’t going to censor the latter?

“I personally suspect that UKIP and EDL members are motivated to go on marches less for political reasons and more for the feeling of camaraderie with the possibility of a good ol’ ruck at the end of it”

Not a UKIP supporter myself, but they seem quite civilised and not at all prone to violence (but correct me if I’m wrong). EDL, BNP, SWP…all rather violent, all essentially fascist.

23. Chaise Guevara

@ TONE

Agreed. It’s bizarre that violence is considered more passable than sex. Even weirder in the US where a lot of channels apparently have lots of violence and sex but draw the line at swearing.

Also: gah, my fault for doing two things at once. I meant UAF, not UKIP.

24. Charlieman

@19. Chaise Guevara: “I know nothing about the man [Hobsbawm], but obituaries in general tend to be pretty fulsome.”

Mainstream press obits of Hobsbawm have been generous with praise for his analysis and lyrical writing. Personally, I found him unreadable.

TONE has been reading a few sceptics who question Hobsbawm’s affiliation with the CPGB through 1956 or 1968 or whenever the CPGB acknowledged the atrocities of Stalin and successors. Some in the CPGB tried to separate themselves from those horrors and sincerely believed in a Eurocommunist future. Hobsbawm never expressed regret and his analysis of Eurocommunism is thus compromised.

Harry’s Place, Oliver Kamm and Jonathan Calder (amongst many) have good sceptical posts with intelligent links.

CG @ 23:

“Even weirder in the US where a lot of channels apparently have lots of violence and sex but draw the line at swearing.”

Never heard that before about the US, but it is not implausible. However, do try TV in some Muslim countries…the women’s faces are covered, even as they slay…

26. Charlieman

@23. Chaise Guevara: “It’s bizarre that violence is considered more passable than sex. Even weirder in the US where a lot of channels apparently have lots of violence and sex but draw the line at swearing.”

I don’t know whether you are making a historical observation, Chaise. In the 1970s, for example, US TV programmes were noted for violence but sex and swearing were noticeably absent. Directors of US TV programmes played games with the censors, so that if a scene had been censored in advance, there would be a dislocation in the story to indicate to viewers that something had been lost. Those directors were using the tricks delivered by their mentors from the 1950s or 1930s.

In the UK we were astounded by casual violence in US TV programmes. The Sweeney was violent, but it was British violence and the heroes turned up at work with bruised faces. The Sweeney swore a bit too, euphemistically. British violence was best done at the cinema — Get Carter — where everyone gets hurt.

Damon
Have you ever been to Spain? the police there are often worse than the hooligans.
Another example is at http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2896/premier-league/2012/10/03/3421178/charlton-chairman-identified-as-manchester-city-fan-brutally?source=breakingnews
The chairman of Charlton Athletic is complaining to Uefa after he was brutally attacked by Spanish police ahead of Manchester City’s clash with Real Madrid last month, Goal.com can reveal. Michael Slater, a lifelong City fan, has been identified as the man shown on amateur footage being knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack that left him with minor head injuries and severe bruising. The fact that a football administrator was on the receiving end of an attack from the Spanish police would appear to support claims from City supporters that the violence was unprovoked and indiscriminate.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  74. SheffieldUncut

    The video from Spanish protests is particularly stark – even the police get kicked around http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  75. SheffieldUncut

    Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  76. U.S. Dept. of Fear

    We can't let the Spanish people win this one. They have to learn to take it like Greeks. http://t.co/epHJZAd6 #bendover

  77. Newbloke

    We can't let the Spanish people win this one. They have to learn to take it like Greeks. http://t.co/epHJZAd6 #bendover

  78. Generous Motors

    We can't let the Spanish people win this one. They have to learn to take it like Greeks. http://t.co/epHJZAd6 #bendover

  79. Billy

    Spain not seen unrest like this in decades MT @libcon: Epic video and pictures from Spanish anti-austerity protests http://t.co/ynMpmb6q

  80. Illuminated Slave

    Epic video and pictures from Spanish anti-austerity protests | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/teymjbV0 via @libcon

  81. ßashir ßaloch

    We can't let the Spanish people win this one. They have to learn to take it like Greeks. http://t.co/jFyFpdXt … #bendover

  82. Rebecca

    The video of last night's Spanish anti-austerity protests is extraordinary. Thousands on the street. Watch to the end! http://t.co/5Mbdrs7d

  83. Phreaked

    Spain not seen unrest like this in decades MT @libcon: Epic video and pictures from Spanish anti-austerity protests http://t.co/ynMpmb6q

  84. Jose R Rodriguez

    ? @FearDept We can't let the Spanish people win this one. They have to learn to take it [and #bendover] like #Greeks http://t.co/ftiykc31

  85. Matthew Greener

    From earlier: Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  86. Kate Ní Shulleabháin

    From earlier: Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  87. Bernt Granbacke

    From earlier: Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  88. Jo Richards

    @BBCNews @bbcnewsnight

    Here are the photos & video YOU should be showing and reporting on:

    http://t.co/vGjz6bH6

    Stop pussy footing.

  89. Matthew Preston

    From earlier: Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  90. Mireya Arellano

    La salvaje forma de reprimir al pueblo que protesta es pura ideología: Rajoy=Piñera. Vea usted. http://t.co/GlC8ihTx

  91. Mitchell Torok

    From earlier: Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  92. Çetin Bayramo?lu

    RT @libcon: Epic video & pics from Spanish anti-austerity protests http://t.co/gkxGLVTU

  93. Rayya Ghul

    From earlier: Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  94. Will Cleverly

    Spain not seen unrest like this in decades MT @libcon: Epic video and pictures from Spanish anti-austerity protests http://t.co/ynMpmb6q

  95. john shale

    Solidarity to all the people fighting back against cuts http://t.co/30bIwCez #25s #madrid #26sgr #greece http://t.co/gXoOejOe

  96. paul barnard

    Are we witnessing general civil unrest – or the start of a European Spring? http://t.co/cszCp6Vw

  97. CJ Håkansson

    Solidarity to all the people fighting back against cuts http://t.co/30bIwCez #25s #madrid #26sgr #greece http://t.co/gXoOejOe

  98. 2012.gada septembra beigas – Eiropas nemieru otrais lielais vilnis? | eiropasrevolucija

    […] Te dažu bilžu atlase> http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/09/26/epic-video-and-pictures-from-spanish-anti-austerity-protests… […]

  99. Innerwisdom

    Epic video and pics from the Spanish anti-austerity protests the media is ignoring http://t.co/uVMs4zuW

  100. Bealtaine Cottage

    @FreeBesieged @chunkymark @PermaGoddess @Number10gov
    @BBCNews

    What the media isn't showing us or govt talking about

    http://t.co/vGjz6bH6

  101. Jo Richards

    @JoRichardsKent @rt_com

    @BBCNews @BBC_HaveYourSay

    Please balance your reporting. Recognise police violence!

    http://t.co/vGjz6bH6

  102. Matthew Frame

    It's all kicking off in Spain – Epic video & pics from Spanish anti-austerity protests | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0AxIjqFq via @libcon

  103. Zoroaster

    Epic video & pics from Spanish anti-austerity protests | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/X62rCpuP via @libcon





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