Imagine coming home to find all of your personal belongings thrown around, torn up and broken. How would you feel?
Exactly. That’s the way I felt. I took the destruction of our infrastructure in Puerta del Sol and Paseo del Prado as a personal insult. And not just me. All over Madrid I felt the rage boiling yesterday. Combine that with the sound of police sirens and a helicopter hovering over the city, and you will realise that this wasn’t a normal summer day.
The appointment is at eight, in Sol. There are demonstrations all over Spain. Sol is a symbol for the entire movement. And the way they treated it was disgusting. Thankfully I have been able to document it and to feed people’s outrage. I meet up with Jim, whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of days. He says the Sol metrostation is closed, the square is blocked on all sides. The police won’t let anybody in.
The square is besieged on all sides. This time there are lots of camera’s filming. It’s of no use to join the chorus. We walk around looking for places where we can get a good and exclusive overview from. We start climbing buildings. Jim is in great form today. He doesn’t only climb up scaffoldings, but also traffic signs, bus station, fountains, concert podiums. Tonight we shoot the protest from above.
It’s impressive. I knew people would be mad when the police dared to touch Sol, but to see this many people protesting is fabulous. “” they are shouting from the various entrances to Sol. “Every time / We are more!”
We stand on top of one of the buildings, right opposite the big clock when the crowd decides to go for a walk towards Callao, Madrid’s version of Piccadilly Circus. It creates a strange situation where almost the entire police force is gathered in Puerta del Sol while an enormous mass of people is on the loose in Madrid.
We’re tens of thousands. The boulevards are full. After Callao we take the Gran Vía towards Cibeles and from there we walk on to Congress. The police hastily move a couple of units down from Sol to guard the barricades. Jim is filming from a lamp post. “Oscar!” he shouts down as people are walking towards us over the Paseo del Prado, “I can’t see the end it!”
They took Puerta del Sol away from us, but tonight the rest of the city is ours. We’re many, and we’re mad. But not for a second does this lead to aggression, violence or destruction. We’re not like them. We are civilised people. We respect other people’s property. And everyone knows that. Even when we move on to the Atocha railroad station to block traffic, we don’t harvest rage. On the contrary. Some people step out of their cars to embrace us.
The crowd turns back to the center. “To Sol! To Sol!”. We are so many that we could take the square by force if we wanted to. No barricade would resist us. The police are ready with tear gas and three lines of officers in riot gear. We march towards them arm in arm, singing. I love to see the tension on the officers’ faces as the crowd stops at a nose length distance with everybody raising their hands. “These are our weapons! These are our weapons!”
We keep on singing for an hour or so. There is more anger in the songs than there used to be when we were demonstrating near congress. The friendly relations with the police have cooled down a bit. Seeing them forced to defend parliament is one thing, seeing them occupying our square is quite another.
In the end we march off. If we don’t return to Sol today, we will return there tomorrow or the day after. For the moment we have all the other squares of Madrid to choose from. People go to the monumental Plaza Mayor. We decide to occupy it. We hold a massive assembly, and in the end, with a small group, we camp. When we woke up there this morning there was already a small information point installed and breakfast being served.
While putting up this news, the radio announces that the small acampada in Plaza Mayor has been evicted. I run out to see and it’s all true. But I don’t worry. “One eviction / Another occupation!” We’ll be back. Tonight the appointment is once again in Sol. The square is public property. We will go on until the police occupation is lifted.