Violence in Barcelona?

You may have seen the AP story by Emilio Morenatti with this headline:  “Barcelona soccer celebrations turn violent; 18 hospitalized, more than 80 arrested”

(AP story can be seen here)

This “violence” happened in Barcelona after their home-town soccer team Fútbol Club Barcelona beat Manchester United at Wembly in the Champions League.    But the article is a good example of poor reporting, as the background for this ‘violence’ is not mentioned.

The context for this “violence” is that since May 15th, there have been peaceful demonstrations and ‘sit-ins’ in many cities in Spain, including on the main plaza in Barcelona.   But on Friday, May 27th, the Mossos (State police of Catalunya) violently attacked the demonstrators, using police batons, rubber bullets, and other means, in order to clear the plaza because they said that the plaza had to be cleared for the after game celebrations if Barcelona were to win the Champions League.   But they went beyond ‘cleaning’ the plaza, beating up people, confiscating telephones, camera and computers.

The news media reported this and had live feed on TV, showing the beatings and people were outraged.  Thousands of people left their jobs and homes to go to the plaza and it was filled with people once again.  The police, being overwhelmed by so many people, left.

People all over Spain were angered by the images of the police beatings.  A photo of them beating a man in a wheelchair really provoked many people.

It was so bad that the people in Madrid, historically enemies with Barcelona in sports and other activities, were sending tweets supporting those in Barcelona.  What God could never unite, became united in moral outrage over police brutality.

Last night when the soccer fans showed up, the majority supported the protesters and signed petitions condemning the police.

As in the US and other places, after any ‘win’ by any team in a major sporting event, there are always a few who resort to vandalism (a word that in my mind is not equal to ‘violence’).

What was different last night is that people were still angry at the police and frankly, the police were abusive and underhanded.  So when they decided to ‘infiltrate’ the crowd, it doesn’t take an advanced degree to figure out that they were there to cause problems and that somebody was going to get hurt.

Why are there protests?  These protests started just before the election because the two main parties in Spain (PP on the right and PSOE on the left) do not represent the interests of the people in Spain.   Sound familiar?

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