Skirmishes continue between protesters and riot police in Madrid, with cops firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd. Fourteen people have been injured and 22 arrested, local media report.
Local emergency services have confirmed that at least 14 people, including four policemen, have been injured in clashes between police and protesters. One of the wounded is believed to be in critical condition, according to local news. One of the injured policemen suffered a severe concussion.
Riot police dispersed the protesters, dragging some by the arms and legs, who had tried to get through police lines. An uneasy order was restored and reinforcements have been brought in to try and disperse the crowd.
Thirteen of those arrested have been detained after a group of protesters tried to break through the police barrier. Several others were reportedly arrested later for arguing with police, bringing the total number of arrests to 22.
Thousands of activists have congregated in Madrid’s Plaza de Neptune, 100 meters from the Congress building, to protest Spanish austerity measures.
The demonstrators pledged to march around the building, and called for new elections. Metal barriers have been placed around the building to block access from every possible direction.
Demonstrators waved banners with the slogan ‘No’ written on them, in reference to the austerity policies of the Spanish government.
Protesters said that today is a key day to level criticism against politicians and the Spanish government. The city stationed armored police vehicles bumper-to-bumper around the parliament building, and announced that around 1,300 police would be deployed to counter the protesters.
The organizers of the protest dubbed their movement ‘Surround Congress,’ and expressed hopes that thousands would turn out. The protestors called themselves ‘indignants’ and claimed that their democracy had been ‘kidnapped,’ calling for new elections and rallies against the austerity measures enacted by Mariano Rajoy’s government.
Some 200 demonstrators gathered near the city’s main railway station chanting “Rescue democracy,” and “This is not a crisis, it’s a swindle.”
But Miguel-anxo Murado, a journalist and writer, told RT that he thought their demands are too vague and that they would not be successful, “it seems that they are back with the same very vague and ambitious platform and in-fact they have been over shadowed by a different constitutional challenge, which is for the independence movement in Catalonia, which is more likely to change the constitution, although in a different way, so I’m afraid they will probably not have a huge success today.”
Spain is in the middle of its second recession in two years, and faces a 25 percent unemployment rate.
Madrid introduced the controversial austerity measures in a gesture meant to show that it intends to fix its debt and budgetary shortfalls. The European Central Bank granted Spain a 100 billion euro rescue loan for its banks, but the country has not decided whether to seek another bailout.
Europe’s financial leaders are pleading for Spain to reduce volatility in its markets by deciding whether or not to request the second loan.
During a September 15 protest, waves of some 50,000 anti-austerity demonstrators converged in downtown Madrid, blowing whistles and hoisting banners that read, “They are destroying the country, we must stop them.” Representatives from over 230 civic and professional organizations also turned out amid cries of “lies,” and “enough.”