postvirtual

Police Charging… No Photos Please!

In Madrid, Spain on 19 October 2012 at 20:37

October 19

Dear people,

I have been off line for a couple of days, and the moment I log on again I can hardly catch up with all that happened. The usual strikes in Greece, Egyptian laymen protesting in Tahrir against the islamisation of society and in favour of a constituent assembly. Spanish unions calling for a strike on November 14 to coincide with similar actions in the rest of Europe, etc.

In Spain, above all, it has been a week of demonstrations by university and secondary school students. Yesterday, in all major cities they rallied against cutbacks and privatisation of education. In Catalonia students demanded the resignation of the minister of education who had recently stated that he wanted to ‘hispanicise’ Catalan schools.

In Madrid, thousands of students marched from Atocha to Sol in a loud and colourful protest. In Cáceres students were charged by police.

The same day, the director general of Spanish police announced his plan to “prohibit the recording, processing or circulation on the Internet of images showing police officers, if doing so would endanger them or the situation in which they are engaged.”

The proposal is part of an upcoming change of the Spanish penal code. It also includes the prohibition (for protesters, not police) to cover their faces during demonstrations, and a redefinition of the concept of ‘violent attack’ to include “any aggression or threats of violence against security forces and ambulance and fire crews.” This can be interpreted to include verbal violence. So calling an officer a ‘hijo de puta’ will be a violent attack on authorities, maybe even an ‘assault against the higher institutions of the state’, and will be punished as such.

A spokesman for the ‘Judges for Democracy’ said the reform was “extremely ambiguous and in no instance should be used to prevent the circulation of excesses on the part of police.”

El País didn’t fail to add that “during recent protests in Madrid, the actions of police were placed under the spotlight after videos were posted on the internet showing riot officers storming into the Atocha railway station firing smoke pellets and beating bystanders with their batons.”

The news of the proposal sent shock waves through the social networks, and was picked up immediately by foreign media ranging from Der Spiegel to the Washington Post.

The second largest Police union SUP, close to the 15M, accused the police chief of trying “to deflect attention from the reality of loss of purchasing power”. It also criticised the chief for failing “to mention how to prevent the recording of images, something that would appear to be impossible in the technological society in which we live.”

At every demonstration where police threaten the use of violence, protesters wave their hands chanting ‘these are our arms!’ The people from Audiovisuals – and not just them – make use of real arms, their camera’s, and they will not give them up.

If the law is illegitimate, we will not obey. We will expose the truth, in word, sound, and image.

*

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