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'Radicals want to ruin Spain's democracy'

Alex Dunham · 28 Mar 2014, 11:27

Published: 28 Mar 2014 11:27 GMT+01:00

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Ignacio Cosidó, director general of Spain’s police service, has announced he has “information” on strategies being used by radical protesters to “bait” police officers and then ambush them.

His words came after Saturday’s “March for Dignity” in Madrid, a demonstration in which thousands of Spaniards took part. But a 1,750 strong anti-riot force was somehow left exposed in the face of a 50-strong crowd of violent protesters who smashed windows and threw rocks, injuring 67 police. 

Some 34 protesters were also hurt in the clashes, as police reacted by firing rubber bullets. Police arrested 24 protesters, three of them minors. 

“Violent individuals made it through the filters,” Socialist domestic affairs spokesman Antonio Trevín told Spanish daily El País.
“Protesters and police officers both paid the price for this lack of coordination.”
The wave of violence was replicated at the capital’s Complutense University, where education-cut protests on Wednesday and Thursday ended in bins being burned and a policeman having to pull out his weapon to protect himself against a group of fifty youths, Spain’s centre-right daily El Mundo reported on Thursday.

Sectors of Spanish society and Spain’s socialist opposition party are partly blaming police chiefs themselves for the violent acts, with images of undercover cops dressed as ‘protesters’ who were putting participants in handcuffs becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

On Wednesday, a police union admitted leaking pictures of weapons to the press which were in fact not used by ‘March for Dignity’ protesters, including a ‘sword-crutch’ and a slingshot.

In light of recent events and the injuries sustained by 70 policemen, Spain’s police chief Ignacio Cosidó wants the country's controversial Security Law to be amended to give greater powers and protection to security personnel.


But many Spaniards find it hard to believe that such a large police contingent could suffer so much at the hands of just a few dozen radical protesters, with some commentators and newspaper like the Spanish edition of the Huffington Post referring to events as a “conspiracy” conjured up by those in power to justify harsh new protest penalties.

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They argue legislation that includes €30,000 fines for shouting at policemen or carrying banners with slogans seems tailor-made for the ruling Popular Party’s attempts to silence public displays of citizen discontent against their running of the country.

Spain’s legal watchdog unanimously approved a report on Thursday which finds parts of the PP’s Citizen Security Law “unconstitutional”.

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Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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