postvirtual

Scenes from the destruction of Sol

In Madrid, Spain on 2 August 2011 at 10:36

Dear people,

This morning, August 2, just before sunrise, police have moved in to destroy the encampment in Paseo del Prado and all the structures left by the 15M movement in Puerta del Sol. As far as I was able to ascertain there have not been any arrests, nor any physical aggression against persons. But that doesn’t make it acceptable.

The desalojo was carried out simultaneously in Prado and Sol, with massive police deployment. I myself was sleeping in the Information Point in the Paseo del Prado. I have tried to document what I can. Everybody was taken by surprise. People sleeping in tents were awoken and brought to the central fountain where their identification was meticulously copied. Just before an officer forced me to take out the batteries from my camera I was able to shoot the following scene.

After the ID-check people were free to go. From a couple of comrades I heard that Sol was also being cleared. Fortunately I could keep my batteries, so I was able to document what was happening there. Even though I risked big time. When I took a photo of police blocking one of the streets leading to the square, two officers came up to me and requested my camera and my ID, once again. I showed it saying I was a Dutch citizen, and I cancelled the image, hoping I could continue to keep shooting. In the end I could, and I’m grateful for that.

Police deployment at Puerta del Sol

Amidst the ruins

Dismanteling the Field Kitchen and the Art Commission:

What I witnessed was pure barbarism. As if the Huns had invaded Puerta del Sol. The destruction of everything we had built up there was perpretated by the municipal cleaning department. The police was only present to seal of the center of the square and to check the roads leading up to Puerta del Sol.

Destruction of the infermary, using a bulldozer:

Rest in Peace

The city cleaners have taken away food from our field kitchen after they had torn it down. They have destroyed the infermary using a bulldozer. They have destroyed at least one citizens private property. They have destroyed many works of art.

The remainders of the Field Kitchen

Going shopping

Throwing away the photos of our comrades from Lisbon

The eviction of Puerta del Sol was a prime example of disrespect on the part of the authorities. They could have chosen to clean the square and to preserve the sculptures, the photos and the paintings that were exhibited there. But they didn’t. They treated everything as trash. We are a constructive movement based on peacefulness and respect. And today, in the face of the authorities’ indiscriminate vandalism, we have gained an enormous moral victory.

Municipal cleaners throwing away someones bike:

Throwing down the mast of Puerta del Sol:

According to rumours the authorities have decided to clear Puerta del Sol and the encampment in the Paseo del Prado because of the upcoming visit of the pope, in mid august. This visit is going to cost the Spanish taxpayer milions of dollars. People are pretty indignant about that. When you walk around the city you can already hear some of them warning you: ‘Watch your wallet! The pope is coming!’ After what happened today, mister Ratzinger can be sure to receive a boiling welcome from the indignados.

Watch out! The pope is coming!

Only after eight thirty the first big camera’s arrive. They slept late today. Almost everything is gone already, the cleaning officers are busy spraying the square with water. I sure hope that the media will have better reflexes tonight, because there will undoubtedly be a popular reaction to this. This type of destructive behaviour on the part of the state will not be tolerated.
Sol is ours. And we will take it back.

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  1. Great post. Thanks a lot and keep on fighting.
    We, the people, are with you.

  2. It’s a shame ! But don’t give up, yesterday a Spanish man, woman and baby saw our assemblee in Nimes and were very happy to see that in France also we work for better times. They told us about Barcelona and that they will go on for revolution, to give a futur to their child.
    Don’t forget, you’re not alone.

  3. In a very similar way, greek municipality cleaners also “cleaned” syntagma square at 4.30 in the morning of Saturday. The excuse? But of course, the “tremendous impact on tourism”. All previews days, the greek media and politicians spoke about “ugliness, dirt, piss smell (!), wreckage and free campers (!!!)”, preparing the ground for the assault. So, just before sunrise, the greek mob mayor sent police special forces, a prosecutor and a team of municipality cleaners (but no bulldozers) that tore down all tents (including the first aid station). All evidence of a people’s uprising dissappeared, there is nothing left to remind of the huge demonstrations that took place only a month ago and the continuing stay of the assmbly’s teams. 13 comrades where taken to the police headquarters, and 8 of them are being charged with “degrading the enviroment” charges.

    The two following days, police special forces where inside the square, trying to stop the assemblies. Of curse that did not happen. Yesterday, Monday, There was a march from Syntagma sq. to the municipality building, followed by the assembly shortly after.

    The truth is that most of the people do not attend the assemblies and the demonstrations any longer, mainly due to the movement’s temporary defeat, as the new austerity measures where voted by the parliament, but also due to extreme weather conditions and vacation! We hope that the people will come back to the squares in September.

    Keep up the good work, comrades from Sol and other squares of the world, we are trying to do our best here also.

    thanks for your time

    • I salute the Greeks, and my heart goes out to you.

      In solidarity from the UK.

    • Thank you Aouas, for sharing this. Don’t despair. The Assembly of Syntagma had all the right in the world to declare that after adopting the austerity measures the Greek government no longer represents the Greek people. The government has lost its legitimacy. Be constantly aware of that.

      From a comrade of yours that came to visit us in Sol I heard that you are working hard to expand into the neighbourhoods. I belief that is vital. For people to participate in politics they need to start by gathering together with their neighbours. You can change the world, but you can’t change it only from Syntagma.

      Take care, don’t ever give up.

  4. They can “clean” the square, but they can’t erase from our conscience what has been happening (and still does) all along these months. It’s time to strike peacefully where they aren’t expecting us. We’re already re-building our future, and they are not gonna clean it!

    All my support from Berlin. This is only the beginning! We aren’t giving up!

  5. Excellent reporting Oscar, this was the prime source of information for the entire movement for a long time until the mainstream media finally began to pick up on it. Thanks for keeping us informed, I hope to be able to come visit in Madrid soon again! Strijdbare groeten! Jerome

  6. TRADUCTION EN FRANÇAIS:
    Témoignage des
    SCENES DE DESTRUCTION DE LA PUERTA DEL SOL
    Madrid, le 2 août 2011

    Tôt le matin du 2 août, juste avant la levée du soleil, la police est arrivée pour détruire le campement à Paseo del Prado et toutes les structures construites par le mouvement 15M à Puerta del Sol à Madrid. D’après ce que j’ai pu voir, il n’y a pas eu d’arrestations, ni d’agression physique contre les personnes. Mais cela ne rend pas cet acte acceptable pour autant.

    L’expulsion a été réalisée simultanément dans Prado et Sol, avec un déploiement policier massif. Je dormais dans le Point d’information dans le Paseo del Prado. J’ai essayé de d’informer autant que je pouvais. Tout le monde a été pris par surprise. Les gens qui dormaient dans des tentes ont été réveillés et reconduits vers la fontaine centrale, où les policiers ont relevé méticuleusement les données de leurs cartes d’identité. Juste avant qu’un officier me force à enlever la batterie de ma caméra, j’ai pu tourner la scène suivante.
    [vidéo 1]

    Après le contrôle d’identité, les gens ont été relâchés. De la part de quelques camarades, j’ai entendu que la Sol a également été délogé. Heureusement, j’ai pu garder mes batteries, j’ai donc été en mesure de filmer ce qui se passait là-bas, malgré le grand risque que je prenais. Lorsque j’ai pris une photo de policiers en cours de bloquer une des rues menant à la place, deux officiers sont venus vers moi et m’ont demandé l’appareil photo et la pièce d’identité, une fois encore. Je leur l’ai montré en disant bien que j’étais un citoyen néerlandais et que j’avais supprimé l’image, en espérant de pouvoir continuer à prendre des photos. En fin de compte, ça a marché et je suis reconnaissant pour cela.

    [photo 1]
    [photo 2] : Au milieu des ruines

    Démantèlement de la cuisine de champ et des constructions de la Commission d’Art:
    [vidéo 2]

    Ce que j’ai vu était une pure barbarie. Comme si les Huns avaient envahi la Puerta del Sol. Tout ce qu’on y avait construit a été détruit par les services de nettoyage municipaux. La police n’était présente que pour bloquer le centre de la place et pour vérifier les routes menant à la Puerta del Sol.

    Destruction de l’infirmerie, en utilisant un bulldozer:
    [vidéo 3]
    [photo 3]
    [photo 4]

    Les services de nettoyage municipaux ont enlevé la nourriture de notre cuisine de champ, après l’avoir démolie. Ils ont détruit l’infirmerie à l’aide d’un bulldozer. Ils ont détruit la propriété privée d’au moins un citoyen. Ils ont détruit de nombreuses œuvres d’art.

    [photo 5] : les restes de la cuisine de champs
    [photo 6] 
    [photo 7] : en faisant ses courses
    [photo 8] : en jetant à la poubelle les photos de nos camarades de Lisbonne

    L’éviction de la Puerta del Sol est un exemple flagrant du manque de respect de la part des autorités. Ils auraient pu choisir de nettoyer la place tout en préservant les sculptures, les photos et les peintures qui y ont été exposées. Mais ils ne l’ont pas fait. Ils ont traité tout comme des déchets. Nous sommes un mouvement constructif basé sur la non-violence et le respect. Et aujourd’hui, face à des actes de vandalisme par les autorités, nous avons acquis une énorme victoire morale.

    Nettoyeurs municipaux en train de jeter un vélo de quelqu’un:
    [vidéo 4]

    En train de jeter le mât de la Puerta del Sol
    [vidéo 5]

    Selon les rumeurs, les autorités ont décidé de dégager la Puerta del Sol et le campement dans le Paseo del Prado en raison de la prochaine visite du pape, mi août. Cette visite va coûter des millions de dollars aux contribuables espagnols. Pas mal de gens sont indignés cause à cela. Quand on se promène dans de la ville, on peut entendre des commentaires comme: «Surveillez votre portefeuille! Le pape arrive!” Après les événements d’aujourd’hui, Monsieur Ratzinger peut s’attendre à un accueil chaud des ‘indignados’.

    [photo 9] : Attention ! Le pape arrive ! 
    [photo 10] 

    Les premiers caméramans n’arrivent qu’après huit heures et demie. Aujourd’hui, ils ont fait une grasse matinée. Presque tout est déjà parti, les agents municipaux sont en train de nettoyer la place avec de l’eau. Il me reste à espérer que les médias auront de meilleurs réflexes ce soir, car il y aura certainement une réaction du peuple à ce sujet. Ce type de comportement destructeur de la part de l’Etat ne sera pas toléré.
    La Puerta del Sol est nôtre. Et nous allons la reprendre.

  7. I am writing from the United Kingdom.

    I am both sorry and angry to see what they did.

    However, I am very glad that you got the pictures and shared them – thank you.

    We around the world are bearing witness, as well as watching, learning, and remembering for the future.

    I hope that it is like water and the internet: whenever there is a blockage of one route, another route is found.

    Best of luck to you all – I am with you in my heart and mind.

  8. One other thing: I admire the people in Spain very much for the mature and intelligent way they have been doing all of this. They are exemplary in their articulation of the issues, and a model of peaceful democratic protest.

  9. Thank you for the inspiration and model to citizens of the world. We in Israel are also waking up to humanism and social justice. We are all in the same boat – from Tahrir to Spain and other places. The mainstream media is reluctant to account for that, so I feel we should tell each other what is happening in each locality, fight separatism by spreading of information. Here is an evacuation of a small tent city in Israel:

  10. Sorry, but you only represent yourselves. No-one had elected you, no-one had told you to go to Puerta del Sol to become “indignados”. A lot of people here in Madrid are really angry with you. The Puerta del Sol is of ALL the people, not of SOME people.

    Yes, here in Spain we have sun, good weather and good way of life (even with the problems of the Euro). Maybe because of that, people like you had came here to “demonstrate”… What? That you are not happy with “the system”? That you’d like to change it? The answer is actually very easy: JUST WORK. Less going through the streets, and more work. I’ve had only one week of vacations this year because my business is suffering with the crisis. And I’ve not seen any “indignado” saying that our Government had been like Atila: Nothing created by this Government, a lot destroyed. The responsibility, you’ve all said, is of “the system”. Which system? The one that had permitted that old people have had money to spend? The one that pays the un-employed? The one that maintains hospitales, infrastructures, etc.? Or the one that maintains a lot of politicians? Because you are not making any change in politics. Politicians are the same, and, what’s worse, they are doing the same things and they’ll continue doing them. You are only bothering normal people hat have their business in Madrid, in the town centre, that need money to live and to maintain their families, that pay their taxes and the rent of their premises (very high, by the way).

    Moral victory? You cannot win anything when many people that supported the movement in May had ended supporting you. I was among the people that saw this movement gladly. I only can see now a lot of layabouts, with nothing to do everyday (if you have something to do during the day, you’d need night to sleep, not to be on the streets; and, if you have to work during night… Well, you’d not be on the streets but on the place you work, except if your job is the most antique profession in the world…).

    World must be more just, and wealth must be fairly distributed. But camping in Puerta del Sol, in Paseo del Prado and in Plaza de Oriente is not the way to achieve this objectives. It’s only a way to make Madrid’s council raise taxes that the people of Madrid have to pay. Will you pay the taxes I pay now if my business go bankrupt?

    I repeat: YOU ONLY REPRESENT YOURSELVES!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you for your point of view, Belén.

      You are not the only person that has been disillusioned by what you have seen. Yesterday I spoke to a comrade of mine who was actually happy about the desalojo. What he saw the last few weeks were people camping out around the field kitchen all day, smoking joints and drinking beer. It’s true. These people are also attracted by this movement.

      The thing is that as a movement we are inclusive. In a document prepared by the March on Brussels, there was stated that we are ‘doctors, engineers, waiters, unemployed’ and a whole list of other professions. I wanted to add ‘perroflautas’ as well. They laughed at it, but I was dead serious. There are lots of them in our movement, and they are very visible. But that doesn’t mean that we do not include lots of people from all walks of life, from all professions and from every part of the political spectrum.

      Sure, we only represent ourselves. The whole idea of direct democracy is participation without someone else ‘representing’ you. As a movement we have only just been born, we are still very much trying to organise and trying to think about the kind of society which we want to live in. Many people are working on this, day after day, with or without a job. They may not be as visible as the people camping out with their beer and their joint, but they are the true soul of the 15M movement. When you want to judge us, take that into account. We represent ourselves. But we ourselves are not just in the square camping, we are everywhere. And we’re working on the future.

      Take care,
      Oscar

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