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Anti-eviction riots in Barcelona´s working class Sants neighborhood
Can this be seen as a style model for San Francisco´s Mission District? Its time to stop singing and start swinging...
On Monday, May 26, the 17-year-old squatted social center Can Vies was evicted by police in Barcelona. Over a thousand people responded with a resilient riot in the neighborhood of Sants.
For Tuesday, May 27, there was a call-out for an evening noise demo outside a government office in Sants, and a more spontaneous gathering when heavy machinery started knocking the Can Vies building to the ground.
From there, things got totally out of control. What follows can only be a partial summary. The most important characteristics are that a day of rage has persisted, surviving the psychological barrier between one day and the next, an extension in time that none of the comrades who were not alive during the dictatorship can remember ever happening in Barcelona; and that things are being organized spontaneously neighborhood to neighborhood.
Around nine in the evening the protest in Sants charged Can Vies and set fire to one of the bulldozers involved in the demolition. It is being said that the machine was afire for four hours. Comrades in Sants barricaded Carrer de Sants, one of the major streets in the neighborhood, for hours, and there were fires and clashes with police.
Comrades close to the center blockaded Av. Paral·lel, one of the major arteries of the city. Comrades uptown attacked the central offices of CiU, currently the ruling party in Catalunya and Barcelona, also barricading major streets around the intersection of Diagonal and Pg. de Gràcia. In the neighborhoods of Gràcia and Sant Andreu, groups of masked people roamed the streets and set up barricades. The newspapers cite disturbances occurring at midnight and later in those two neighborhoods as well as Clot, Poblenou, Nou Barris, and Paral·lel. Banks were attacked, dumpsters and other objects were burned. Accurate figures are hard to come by but there were perhaps a dozen arrests and a dozen identifications the second day.
Police claim a total of 53 dumpsters burned the second day, the figure is probably incomplete. All the riot police from all over Catalunya have been brought to Barcelona. All night long police helicopters were flying over the city with spotlights trying to encounter the troublemakers. Sirens could be heard as police and firefighters raced from one end of the city to the other until at least 3 in the morning.
Today there are call-outs for evening protests in Sants and at least 9 other points in Barcelona, as well as 21 towns and cities in the province of Barcelona, six other cities and towns across Catalunya (where, in theory, there will be no riot police), and València, Gamonal (Burgos), and Palma de Mallorca.
It remains to be seen if clashes will continue for a third day and if previously uninvolved people will join in, although a tension grips the city and many people, including those who voted for the conservative party in power, are expressing anger over the helicopters, the state of siege, and the eviction of the social center.
If the revolt extends, it can be assumed that comrades will be happy to learn of solidarity protests and actions in other countries.