Friday, 17 November 2023, 11:16
The night-time protests on Calle Ferraz outside the Socialists' headquarters in Madrid on Thursday night following the investiture vote brought out even more extremist and violent groups than in previous days. The police response was fierce and a dozen arrests were made.
According to government calculations 4,000 people took part in the protest against Sánchez’s re-election which ended in serious disturbances in the early hours of Friday morning. The violent and hooded demonstrators, after hours of provocations, achieved what they were looking for at the stroke of midnight: breaking through a cordon fence which led to a charge by riot police who deployed tear gas in the Argüelles neighbourhood.
At least ten people were arrested for disturbing the peace, according to police. Seven people were injured, most of them as a result of falls; the victims included one policeman who suffered a concussion, according to sources from the health services of Emergencias Madrid. The violent scenes marked fourteen consecutive days of protests in the area. On Wednesday, fifteen arrests were made, including two journalists whom the police also accused of disorderly conduct, and there were almost a dozen minor injuries.
But this Thursday the atmosphere was even more extreme than on previous days. Far-right ultras burnt the Catalan flag, la estelada, swastikas were displayed for the first time, and songs of the Blue Division (a unit of Spanish volunteers operating within the German Army during WWII) were sung, and many Francoist flags were held. Flares, golf balls, firecrackers and unopened cans were hurled at the 300 members of the Police Intervention Units (riot police), who were shielding the area.
The ultras, radicals and neo-Nazis also chanted insults at the security forces who have become a target of their wrath. Chants such as “National Police, national shame” and “These police are with the amnesty” were heard.
The Vox spokesman in Madrid, Javier Ortega Smith, was present at the peaceful part of the rally before the rioters took over. The massive protest was in response to calls from Revuelta, the unofficial youth group of Vox, and neo-Nazi groups such as Noviembre Nacional and Democracia Nacional, under the slogan of 'No nos engañan, Cataluña es España' (We are not fooled, Catalonia is Spain).
In common with the long-running demonstrations in front of the PSOE's national headquarters to protest the PSOE's agreements with Catalan pro-independence supporters and the amnesty in exchange for their support for Sánchez's investiture, Thursday's rallies were also not communicated in advance to the authorities to obtain the corresponding permit.
The police operation on this occasion included numerous plainclothes agents of the Police Information Brigade, to 'point out' the violent demonstrators..
Before the riots broke out, several trucks with screens on their trailers and messages such as 'Sánchez, traitor' or 'It's time for the Spaniards', chartered by the far-right Hazte Oír group, passed through the vicinity of the socialist headquarters on several occasions, provoking applause and shouts.
Among the chants and insults before the riot were slogans against Sánchez, Puigdemont and the minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Others chants such as 'We are not ultra, we are Spanish', 'Socialist Party, whoremonger and coup plotter' or 'It is not a headquarters, it is a whorehouse' were also heard, as well as numerous attacks against the media, branding them as a 'manipulative Spanish press'. There were also shouts against the National Police and King Felipe VI.
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