Shoulder to shoulder the comrades of Audiovisuals are walking through the catacombs of the Tabacalera, a former tobacco factory turned into an occupied social center. In one of the spaces there are black people playing the drums. The sound echoes through the vaults, and through your head, deep into your stomach. This is the soundtrack of our film, of our movement, of our time. We walk across the courtyard, heading to the TV studio. Tonight we will hold a video conference with the comrades in Barcelona and Zaragoza.
The man who gets it all working is Jack. He is the prototype of the modern revolutionary. Wherever there’s rioting going on he is there to train people in using video as a weapon against the police.
For him it all started years ago when he walked down the street and saw three police officers beating the shit out of a sixteen year old kid. He grabbed his camera and started shooting.
“Stop it!” one of the police officers said.
“No,” answered Jack.
He was attacked by the cops, his camera was broken, he was arrested and charged with aggression against the police. They never condemned him, but since then Jack has a mission. He is part of a collective that trains people to deal with police violence by using images. They are active worldwide. Spain, Greece, the Gaza Strip and beyond. They operate as a paramilitary organization armed with cameras instead of guns. They make use of different ‘cells’ for shooting direct streaming and a coordination team to collect the footage and put it through to the Internet.
Years ago during riots in Minneapolis they used their pictures to make a documentary. It became the “official history” of the insurgency. The footage was used in court and has lead to the acquittal of over six hundred people who were charged after the riots. The movie is called “Terrorizing Dissent”, it can be seen on the Internet, and it has achieved a great success in local cinemas. It is one of the many little revolts that Jack has made his contribution to. But this, the Spanish Revolution, is the biggest thing he has ever covered.
We establish contact. We see people united in a popular assembly on the square.
“Hello Zaragoza! Everything okay?”
Waving hands and cheers. We exchange greetings and information. They are busy preparing for the big protest march on Sunday. There’ll be a massive protest in all cities of Spain. And in other countries as well. In Madrid, the people will march in six columns from the neighbourhoods to parliament. The guys from Audiovisuals have eight cells ready to report. I myself will be there of course, you will get all the news.
Today there are things going on as well. I’m in a working class neighbourhood in the north of Madrid. A family here was about to be evicted because of their mortgage debt. That will not happen. The whole street is filled with people determined to prevent it. The banks have caused the crisis, and now they want to throw people on the streets who lost their jobs because of it. We will have nothing of it. We stand in solidarity. ‘Audiovisuals’ has deployed three units for their live coverage, one inside the house and two on the street.
In Spain there are 250,000 people at risk of being evicted from their houses because of mortgage debts. At the same time three million homes are vacant in Spain. But the most crazy thing is that once a family has been evicted, their debt still stands. They are expected to continue paying for a house they have been deprived of. A legislative bill introduced to change this was voted down by both major parties, as it would put the political future of the parties at risk. This because they are largely financed by the banks.
The first practical actions of the movement is to avoid evictions on a large scale. Mortgage commissions are being set up in cities and districts to coordinate actions. At a planned eviction in Barcelona yesterday, the police did not even show up. It made no sense, there was a huge crowd to prevent it. And today as well, dear comrades, we claimed victory in Madrid. The eviction is off. At noon police forces have retreated.
I am proud, comrades. Proud of these people who have finally united for the common good. Proud of these people who no longer look the other way as their fellow citizens are plunged into misery. This could be the start of something big. Because if people with debts don’t have to fear being evicted any more, then no-one needs to be afraid. The people who are still paying their mortgage will start to wonder why the hell they should continue to pay.
A mortgage strike is the next step. And when that happens it’s really going to be a full-scale revolt. Then the banks will collapse. And with the banks, the whole system.
Fuerza y respeto,