Spanish Police Continue Brutality on Fifth Day of Protests Against Education Cuts
Protesters: "Our weapons are our books and hands in the air"
In the face of police brutality, thousands of students, parents, professors and others are on the streets of Valencia, Spain today in the biggest protest yet against education cuts. Protests in other Spanish cities are underway as well.
The Guardian reports:
A tense standoff between demonstrators and police in Valencia, eastern Spain, threatens to spark protest across the country as school children and students start a fifth day of rallies against education cuts and heavy-handed policing. Baton-wielding police pursued demonstrators around the city as protests grew following the arrest of a 17-year-old protester from a local secondary school.
Police claimed they had been attacked by demonstrators hurling bottles and that 11 officers had been injured.
Schoolchildren and university students are at the forefront of daily protests in Valencia against a regional government gripped by corruption scandals as it imposes austerity measures to control debt and balance its budget.
Police have arrested 43 students and schoolchildren, including eight minors, in the city over the past four days.
Demonstrations in support of the Valencia students are being organised in half a dozen cities around the country on Tuesday evening. Valencia's students, meanwhile, said they would continue to protest "with our books and hands in the air".
— MiquelRamos (@Miquel_R) February 21, 2012
El País reports that arrests have skyrocketed:
The police in Valencia have made more arrests during the past few days of student protests than were made during all of the demonstrations in 2011 – a year that saw the 15-M popular movement spring up, as well as a number of marches against government cutbacks.
And continues with Valencia police chief Antonio Moreno's comments calling the protesters "the enemy":
“During the previous conflict, with the 15-M, we also had to use force when we were attacked.”
Moreno also refused to give details regarding the number of officers that were deployed to break up the student demonstrations, to protest against cuts in education spending, which have left many schools in such a dire situation that they do not have any heating. He said that he was unwilling to “give that information to the enemy.”
Witnesses yesterday confirmed to Agence France-Presse that riot police are beating students:
Photographs and videos from the scene showed youths with bleeding faces and baton-wielding police in helmets and body armour chasing, beating and dragging people along the ground as the street clashes continued after nightfall.
"It's not enough to just denounce this repression; we have to stop it."
The Federation of Journalist Unions (Federación de Sindicatos de Periodistas) condemned the disproportionate use of force against protesters -- -including minors -- by police and confirmed that members of the press were beaten by police, despite being clearly identified as press.
The protesters indicate no signs of letting up. One group of students told El País:
We're not going to stay with our arms crossed while they continue with this wave of repressive cuts hitting everyone from students to retired people. It's not enough to just denounce this repression; we have to stop it.
The Guardian has video from Monday showing police using excessive force against protesters and bystanders: