Police crack down on Spanish anti-austerity camp

27.05.11 @ 18:37

  1. By Leigh Phillips

BRUSSELS - Police launched a morning crackdown on anti-austerity protesters camped out in the main square in the Catalan city of Barcelona on Friday (27 May).

  • Burning the EU flag in Spain. Protesters echoed similar messages in Greece earlier this year (Photo: tom.tziros)

According to eyewitnesses, riot police moved in to Placa de Catalunya between 7 and 8 am, firing rubber bullets, tear gas and baton-charging the protesters. Footage from the encampment shows police attacking peaceful demonstrators without prior provocation.

Some two individuals were arrested, with 46 injured and five admitted to hospital.

Protestors describing themselves as ‘los indignados', or the indignant ones - after the best-selling 2010 book Indignez-vous! (published in English as Time for Outrage) by 94-year-old celebrated French resistance fighter Stephane Hessel - have occupied the plaza in the Catalan capital since 15 May to display their indignation at the soaring levels of unemployment, political corruption and a system they say benefits the wealthy at the expense of others.

The encampment had grown to include its own infrastructure, with cooking facilities, soundsystems and even bookshops.

The police said that it was necessary to remove the encampment for sanitary reasons and to prevent unrest ahead of the Champions' League final football match between Manchester and Barcelona in Wembley on Saturday.

However, while the authorities were initially successful in clearing the area, protesters issued an appeal over social networks for people to come to the square to defend the camp. According to those present, the police were quickly outnumbered and the square has been retaken by protesters with a renewed sense of anger.

"The police were quite brutal. People were sitting down and the police just batoned them, but many more of us arrived, with Twitter, Facebook, text messages calling people to Placa Catalunya," Oscar Reyes, one of the campers, told EUobserver.

"Whether they planned to or not, the police have retreated for now," he added.

"I think the police don't know what to do. They did manage to clear the square, but then they let people back and now there's a genuine felling of, well, indignation."

The Indignados have begun to rebuild the camp, and plans are afoot to spread the movement to different neighbourhoods across the city.

Meanwhile the so-called ‘Indignant' movement, which rapidly spread to Greece, was readying its third night of protests across the Hellenic republic.

Similar protests in Dublin and Cork in solidarity with the Spanish campers have also been announced for 2pm on Saturday.

Footage of police crackdown

Spanish Green MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda talks about about the Indignados

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