postvirtual

Ad Mayora!

In Madrid, Spain on 3 August 2011 at 12:05

Dear people,

Imagine coming home to find all of your personal belongings thrown around, torn up and broken. How would you feel?

Exactly. That’s the way I felt. I took the destruction of our infrastructure in Puerta del Sol and Paseo del Prado as a personal insult. And not just me. All over Madrid I felt the rage boiling yesterday. Combine that with the sound of police sirens and a helicopter hovering over the city, and you will realise that this wasn’t a normal summer day.

Police presence in Sol

The appointment is at eight, in Sol. There are demonstrations all over Spain. Sol is a symbol for the entire movement. And the way they treated it was disgusting. Thankfully I have been able to document it and to feed people’s outrage. I meet up with Jim, whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of days. He says the Sol metrostation is closed, the square is blocked on all sides. The police doesn’t let anybody in.

Video by Jim

The square is besieged on all sides. This time there are lots of camera’s filming. It’s of no use to join the chorus. We walk around looking for places where we can get a good and exclusive overview from. We start climbing buildings. Jim is in great form today. He doesn’t only climb up scaffoldings, but also traffic signs, bus station, fountains, concert podiums. Tonight we shoot the protest from above.

Crowd besieging Sol

It’s impressive. I knew people would be mad when the police dared to touch Sol, but to see this many people protesting is fabulous. “Cada vez / Somos más!” they are shouting from the various entrances to Sol. “Every time / We are more!”

We stand on top of one of the buildings, right opposite the big clock when the crowd decides to go for a walk towards Callao, Madrid’s version of Piccadilly Circus. It creates a strange situation where almost the entire police force is gathered in Puerta del Sol while an enormous mass of people is on the loose in Madrid.

Crowd at Gran Via

We’re tens of thousands. The boulevards are full. After Callao we take the Gran Vía towards Cibeles and from there we walk on to Congress. The police hastily moves a couple of units down from Sol to guard the barricades. Jim is filming from a lamp post. “Oscar!” he shouts down as people are walking towards us over the Paseo del Prado, “I can’t see the end it!”

Crowd arriving at Congress. Photo: Jim

They took Puerta del Sol away from us, but tonight the rest of the city is ours. We’re many, and we’re mad. But not for a second does this lead to aggression, violence or destruction. We’re not like them. We are civilised people. We respect other people’s property. And everyone knows that. Even when we move on to the Atocha railroad station to block traffic, we don’t harvest rage. On the contrary. Some people step out of their cars to embrace us.

Support ad Atocha

Crowd heading back to Sol

The crowd turns back to the center. “To Sol! To Sol!”. We are so many that we could take the square by force if we wanted to. No barricade would resist us. The police are ready with tear gas and three lines of officers in riot gear. We march towards them arm in arm, singing. I love to see the tension on the officers’ faces as the crowd stops at a nose length distance with everybody raising their hands. “These are our weapons! These are our weapons!”

We keep on singing for an hour or so. There is more anger in the songs than there used to be when we were demonstrating near congress. The friendly relations with the police have cooled down a bit. Seeing them forced to defend parliament is one thing, seeing them occupying our square is quite another.

Popular Assembly at Plaza Mayor. Photo: Jim

Popular Assembly at Plaza Mayor, detail. Photo: Jim

In the end we march off. If we don’t return to Sol today, we will return there tomorrow or the day after. For the moment we have all the other squares of Madrid to choose from. People go to the monumental Plaza Mayor. We decide to occupy it. We hold a massive assembly, and in the end, with a small group, we camp. When we woke up there this morning there was already a small information point installed and breakfast being served.

Morgenstimmung at Plaza Mayor

While putting up this news, the radio announces that the small acampada in Plaza Mayor has been evicted. I run out to see and it’s all true. But I don’t worry. “One eviction / Another occupation!” We’ll be back. Tonight the appointment is once again in Sol. The square is public property. We will go on until the police occupation is lifted.

  1. une traduction – résumé en français :
    “… Nous sommes des dizaines de milliers. Tous les boulevards sont pleins… Ils nous ont pris Puerta del SOL, mais ce soir tout le reste de la ville est à nous. Nous sommes nombreux, nous sommes foux. Mais à aucun moment cela n’amène de l’agression, violence ou destruction. Nous ne sommes pas comme eux. Nous respectons la propriété des autres. Et tout le monde est conscient de ça. … Les foules retournent au centre ville : A SOL! A Sol! Nous sommes tellement nombreux qu’on aurait pu prendre la place par la force si nous avions voulu. Aucune barricade aurait résister. Les policiers sont prêts avec le gaz lacrymogènes et de trois lignes d’officiers en tenue anti-émeute. Nous marchons vers eux bras dessus bras dessous, en chantant. J’adore voir la tension sur les visages des officiers quand la foule s’arrête à une distance de longueur du nez et tout le monde lèvent les mains. «Ce sont nos armes! Ce sont nos armes! ” … On continue à chanter pendant une heure. …Et puis on s’en va. On ne retourne pas à sol aujourd’hui, on le fera demain ou un autre jour. Nous avons du choix entre autres places à Madrid. Les gens vont à Plaza Mayor… On tient une énorme assemblée, puis, en petit groupe on refait un campement. Quand ce matin on se réveille, il y a déjà un petit point d’info d’installé et le petit déj servi. Le temps que j’écrit ce message, la radio annonce que le petit campement sur la Plaza Mayor a été expulsé. … Mais je ne vous inquiétez pas. «Une expulsion / autre occupation!” Nous serons de retour. Ce soir, le rendez-vous est à nouveau en Sol. La place est un espace publique. Nous allons continuer jusqu’à l’occupation policière est levée.”

  2. Merci pour la traduction, mes amis français appréciront !
    Keep going people !! We send you our support from Nimes – France

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