As the Spanish government defends police response to anti-austerity protests surrounding the country’s Parliament building, Russia Times and other outlets reported instances of police violence against both media members and demonstrators.
An Associated Press photographer reported seeing police “severely beat” at least one protester Saturday, who had to be hospitalized. And an RT producer, Fernando Ausín, said an officer grabbed him and threw him to the ground earlier this week, even though he had identified himself as a member of the press. When he fell, he said, another officer clubbed him in the back with his nightstick.
Saturday’s protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations by tens of thousands of residents against the latest budget by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, which would implement measures including salary freezes for public employees, a cut on unemployment spending and an overall budget cut of $51.7 million.
The first demonstration of the week, on Tuesday, proved to be the most violent, with 64 people injured and 35 others arrested. Video surfaced of police chasing protesters into a train station near the Parliament building and firing rubber bullets at them. In one instance, an officer can be seen hitting a man in the leg even though he had not been identified as a protester.
All but one of the protesters arrested Tuesday was released within 24 hours and charged with resisting arrest and crimes against the state. After his release, one demonstrator compared their treatment while in jail to that of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
“They ordered us to face the wall without being allowed to speak, without being allowed to move for hours,” said the man, who identified himself by his first name, Miguel Angel. “Anybody who passed out was ordered to stay standing.”
The government’s delegate in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, told the BBC the police response was appropriate, given that demonstrators threw “nearly 300 pounds of rocks” at officers.
RT’s report on the ongoing protests, aired Sunday, can be seen below.