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Wave of Arrests in Barcelona (Catalunya)

Starting Monday, 3 October, the Mossos d’Escuadra, the Catalan police force, began a wave of arrests targeting people as they left their homes. It quickly came out that they had been ordered by the Spanish government in Madrid to arrest all 22 people identified via media photos in connection with the 15 June blockade of the Catalan parliament, in which politicians eventually had to be brought in via helicopter in order to approve the austerity cutbacks. Multiple politicians attempting to enter by car or on foot were insulted, spit on, and even spraypainted.

Since then, the mossos in conjunction with the media had adopted a strategy of demonization, taking advantage of the reformist sectors of the popular movement that naively sought to use a good image in the media to “spread their message” in order to get the movement pacifists to play the role of police and isolate the more radical elements. They avoided making any arrests so as not to unite the movement in solidarity.

Madrid, known for a different style of policing than the Catalan state, changed the rules of the game this October when they ordered the arrests of the troublemakers long-since identified by the Catalan police, thanks to the proliferation of filming at protests. In the first two days of arrests, 10 people were arrested, cited, and given a date to present themselves at the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid, in some cases in as few as three days. By Wednesday, lawyers had obtained the full list of 22 people, and curiously, nearly all of them are anarchists.

Anarchists make up an influential and vocal minority within the popular movement that began occupying Plaça Catalunya on the 15th of May, but they were numerically insignificant among the 200,000 people blockading parliament that day in June, and weren’t even the majority of those at the frontlines, blockading streets with dumpsters and spitting on politicians.

So far, it seems the State will have a hard time succeeding in this attempted repression, as the anarchists are well connected in their neighborhood assemblies and have broad-based support. What’s more, in the intervening months pacifism has largely been abandoned by many sectors of the movement as an undignified, ineffective tool of grassroots politicians.

The first day of the arrests, a spontaneous solidarity demo convened in the evening in Pl. Catalunya, drawing nearly a thousand people. In a rare achievement, the demo took over Las Ramblas, which it left covered in spraypainted slogans of solidarity, and marched on the Generalitat, the seat of the Catalan government, where hundreds of people shouted and vented their rage at the police for half an hour before deconvening. More solidarity actions are planned.

Update:
On Thursday, a second solidarity protest was held, this time drawing around 3,000 people who marched on the Interior Ministry, chanting largely anarchist and anti-capitalist slogans.

On Tuesday, 18 of those identified must appear in court in Madrid.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 11:13 pm and is filed under Social Control.