In the early afternoon, in the streets leading to Puerta del Sol, members of the National Police were already searching everyone who entered the square to participate in the demonstration after Pablo Hasél’s imprisonment. They found everything in the records. Some of them were armed with chains. Others, with cans of pepper spray hidden under the jackets.
These objects remain mere trinkets when compared with what, more or less at the same time of the day this Tuesday, came to seize the Mossos d’Esquadra in Barcelona: a wooden crossbow, made by hand, loaded with a harpoon with five metal points, also prepared to be used in protests.
The weapon was automatically requisitioned by the troops of the Mobile Brigade Area (BRIMO), the riot control of the autonomous body, fortunately before its owner even used it.
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Mossos agents are well aware of the amalgamation of radical and violent groups that star in these altercations in Catalonia: they have been facing them for a decade with greater or less intensity, since that assault on Parliament in which the then president Artur Mas had to access by helicopter.
In recent years, violence, coordination and frequency have increased, especially as a result of the illegal referendum on October 1. The zenith of street violence was reached in October 2019 with the sentencing of pro-independence politicians, although a case such as that of the seized crossbow had not occurred until now.
On that occasion the decision of the Supreme court it was expected. Until Catalonia groups of “extreme left, anarchists and independence” from other parts of Spain and even abroad, explained police sources. On this occasion, with a prison stay that happened overnight, the organization has not gone that far. For now.
“They are mostly from Catalonia,” explains an agent. The methods of transmission of the coordinates on the map and the actions to be carried out are the same: telegram groups, Twitter and encrypted messaging apps.
Riots in Madrid
That the riots due to the imprisonment of Pablo Hasél in the center of Madrid and in other cities of Spain were not a peaceful movement or spontaneously organized, the agents knew in advance. The information in their possession already anticipated the aggressiveness of the protesters.
“Some were bursting ATMs,” explains an agent, present at the Madrid operation. “They are going to kill,” insists a second. “There were quite a few injured, only from my group 9 -completes a third-. I did not see it, but I even have a video in which a colleague is thrown an electric scooter in the lead“.
Lawyers at your service
In general, the policemen ran into old acquaintances in the street of this kind of violent brawl. Some of those who gathered there had already faced the agents in other situations, such as evictions or previous disturbances in recent years in the streets of Madrid. Most of them were, according to various police sources, true professionals of destruction and riot.
What did surprise the members of the Police Intervention Unit (UIP) It was to see how the new generations are making their way in this field as well. “There were many minors, several of them among the detainees.”
Given the possibility that several would end up in the police station, the organizers of the demonstrations in the center of the capital, the Madrid Antirepressive Movement, an anti-system group, from the extreme left, hardened in this kind of events, had given instructions days before, providing them with the necessary tools in advance.
“Those do not miss one,” say police sources. The guidelines to his ‘puppies’ were very clear. On the one hand, they incited them to become “a fist against repression”. On the other, they offered them help in the face of police actions.
Two of the lawyers related to this movement they were on duty last night so that any of the detainees could turn to them. Days before they made sure the protesters knew it to be properly protected. “Remember: giving the name and surname of any of them is enough. Write them on your arm or memorize them“, they advised, in a poster that they spread through their social networks.
Cobblestones in the lead
The plan of the Madrid police operation was to control access to kilometer zero of the capital so that no one introduced any dangerous object. And that is why all kinds of objects were seized, such as those mentioned at the beginning of the chronicle.
However, the virulence of the protesters, accustomed to these congregations, increased later, when they pierced the pavement of the street and they were armed with cobblestones. Those stones would later be thrown at the heads of the policemen. One of those projectiles broke one of them the regulation helmet.
Although they managed to surround the most dangerous in the center of the capital, some of them managed to circumvent the police cordon. It was these who began a series of incursions into nearby streets, in which they undertook against shop windows, the entrances of some shops, and even street furniture.
The protests ended much later than ten o’clock at night, the curfew time established by the pandemic. By then the day of riots ended with 19 people arrested and several tweets by the parliamentary spokesman of United We Can, Pablo Echenique, enraging and encouraging the protesters. A total of 55 injuries were also recorded. 35 of them were policemen.