• Morgan Fagg

Youths dressed in black

Youths dressed in black clash on the streets of Madrid.

The sentencing of political leaders in Catalunya resulted in mass protests in the region and some of those protesters made their way to the capital.

The protests in Catalunya have been described as peaceful protests but the acrimonious situation is anything but peaceful as people determined to be heard, are fighting back.

The illegal referendum on the 1st of October 2017 resulted in a heavy-handed police crackdown which I don’t think helped the situation in any way. This will probably have a knock-on effect where violence begets violence and the police will be forced to use force which will result in further hostility in the region.

The police are probably being taunted and provoked as the images of police brutality certainly help the narrative that #SpainIsAFascistState.

As an outsider, I wonder why can’t Madrid welcome the Catalans to the capital?

Why can’t people wave Spanish flags in Barcelona and vice versa why can't people wave Catalan flags in Madrid? How has this happened in Europe?

That said, I am reminded of the disastrous Love Ulster event in O’Connell Street over a decade ago.

I will continue to see Catalans as Spanish until Catalunya gains independence but the longer this goes on, the harder it will be to find neutral ground. Worse still violent protests will probably damage both tourism and business in Spain and Catalunya

The Dark Knight

Dressed in armour and wearing a mask and helmet, a police officer politely directed me to the other side of the road, “Caballero, Caballero” which translates as both knight and gentleman or the equivalent of Sir.

While some police will be heavy-handed and possibly escalate the situation further, this man’s voice spoke volumes of the difficulty they face.

How do you politely control a situation that is getting out of hand?

It is easy to watch the police through a lens as they are caught on camera engaged in violent acts and I wanted to tell the men monitoring the situation to breathe and relax as I imagine tensions are very high inside their armoured vests.

A youth dressed in a ski-mask appeared defiant on the street corner of Canallejas as another young man dressed in black clothing attacked him and called him a “Maracon” which translates as faggot.

Such clashes will be described as fascist versus separatist but to me, they are both Spanish. They are both about the same age and they are both working against each other and likely to receive a blow from police batons as they confront one another and scare people passing by.

Cameras were quickly trained on the police who will have to make rapid decisions through the limited view of their helmets and while wearing heavy protective clothing and holding batons in their hands and some of them riot shields.

The boy from the capital and his Catalan cousin wearing a ski-mask represent two very different paths Spain is taking and shouting insults at each other as they trade blows will resolve nothing politically. It was like watching a schoolyard fight but one where the police could come charging towards them at any moment to control the chaos.

Many continued to drink and eat in Madrid’s many restaurants oblivious to the handful causing chaos in the capital and fighting in the streets.

Rightwing groups and separatist groups, Fascist salutes and aggression are not helping the Catalan narrative that Spain is a fascist state.

Cooler heads will be needed to solve this situation as the far-right calls for curbing rights in Catalunya as an election looms in November and people continue to argue over Franco’s remains.

The world is watching, Spain is trending on Twitter and the police will have an impossible task maintaining order from two rival forces trading insults and fighting tit for tat.

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