Anti-capitalism/Pensions demonstration in Madrid ends in violence
A demonstration held in central Madrid turned voilent after police cornered the prostesters stopping them from reaching their destination, Spain's congress building. Several fires were started & several prosters were arrested. Madrid,Spain 27/01/2011
The prostests gathered under the general banner of Anti-capitalism/Pensions reform, this brought together a number of groups and individuals from the left, those annoyed withe the government and some who seemed just out to cause trouble.
The night started around 7pm in Atocha, a central train hub for Madrid. Spirits were high and the protestors began their march up towards Sol, the touristic center of Madrid. The journey was peaceful, with lots of chants and waving of flags with little visible police presence except at the front and rear ends.
Once in sol the numbers of police increased but kept a respectful distance. As we turned past the familiar landmarks we journey on towards congress, the streets here were narrower forcing people closer together.
Just 300 meters from the congress building, at a cross roads, our path blocked on 2 side by police vans 4 or 5 side by side with a line of riot police infront of them who were getting ready. After a flash of tension as protesters and police sized each other up, attention turned to the loud speaker where the various demonstrating parties gave speeches lasting 15 to 20 mins.
Once the speeches were over, a group of protesters started to walk towards the police line, hands held high in a display of non violence and to show they meant no hard. Once they were nose to nose with the police the atmosphere began to change. Unnoticed by most of the police officers a firework had been thrown past them in amongst the vans, it went off with a very loud bang, startling some of the protesters and police.
Another missile was thrown, this time a smoke bomb, as it was kicked about visibility reduced, as the smoke cleared it revealed the crossroads rapidly emptying as more things started to be thrown, bottles, rubbish bags, bins, anything they could. The police broke line and began to charge, chasing groups of protesters back down towards Sol and away from congress.
The protesters were pulling over bins and throwing what they could as the pursuing police. Some of the protestors had made a barricade of papper and had set it alight, this barrier of fire kept the two groups apart for a while. Until it was smashed through by a speeding police van. The chase continued into Sol where most of the protesters dispersed. The final few trouble makers set fire to a recycling bin causing foul smelling smoke to fill the air as they went home.
Not a bad first demonstration with the Madrid Demotix photographers. At the start of the night i asked "So is there every any trouble at these type of things?", "Nooooo, i've been doing this for 2+ years, i've never seen any trouble" - Lawmoment (almost 500 stories on Demotix).