Un nuevo ‘indignado’ (en ‘Notes from the Spanish Revolution’) – O ‘Encontrándose con la policía’

Lo que copio/pego a continuación (y que a ver si lo traduzco) es algo que me han hecho llegar, que le ha pasado a un tipo que conozco. Él viene de Estados Unidos, así que además de la indignación por lo que pasó – que nos puede pasar a cualquiera – es interesante ver la perspectiva de alguien de allí en un ‘encuentro en la tercera fase’ con la policía.


El blog es Notes from the Spanish Revolution, y la entrada original está aquí. También merece la pena la segunda parte, que se llama ‘A Message from the Spanish Police and Media to the Masses’.



On Thursday December 22, 2011 in the Tirso de Molina neighborhood of Madrid, Spain, I was stopped, accused, searched, insulted and to my mind threatened by four undercover members of the Madrid police force, simply due to their perceived notions of my political beliefs.  I have filed a denuncia (official complaint) against this deed, but as the officers basically refused to identify themselves, I was unable to file against them individually.

Let me begin by saying that until this early morning just after midnight, never did I consider myself an Indignado.  I am hardly young.  I work.  I have many things for which to be thankful, things that the Spanish youth graduating from universities today see as an impossibility to attain.  However, I have been sympathetic to the movement because of a strong feeling of injustice coming from a system that offers young Spaniards few opportunities, and yet seems deaf and sometimes outright combative when these disenchanted young people have the courage to speak out.  I admired the Indignados.  I filmed the Indignados.  However, I have done little actual protesting.  That has all changed in the past 24 hours.  I am officially indignant, and feeling a bit ashamed that it has taken me this long.  Now my story…



Last night I met with my brother around 19:30 in the Puerta del Sol to take some pictures and videos of a couple of protests — one in support of the victims of Francisco Franco and his Fascist regime, and another in support of the Madrid #15M Movement.


After spending a half hour taking photos, we decided to head towards the Tirso de Molina area nearby to get a bite to eat.  We walked through the plaza itself and about a block away our problems began.  My brother was smoking his last cigarette when we were accosted from behind by a man dressed in black who was trying to speak to us.  My brother does not speak Spanish and is visiting Madrid as a tourist, but I was able to ascertain that the man was telling us that he was the Police.  I spoke to him in Spanish and explained that my brother did not understand him, and asked what he wanted.  He said that we had been smoking a porro (a marijuana or hashish cigarette) and he wanted to speak to us.  I immediately demanded to see his badge which he showed me, and I quickly realized that 3 other men dressed in black had surrounded us and were showing us their badges too.

Was I nervous?  Not in the least.  My brother had been smoking tobacco, and I was carrying only a phone, abono (subway pass), keys, camera, flashlight and a few things I had bought that day.  Unfortunately for me, those few things included 2 “V for Vendetta” masks, and 2 canisters of pepper spray that I had bought just minutes before in a self-defense shop in Sol.  Both of these objects are perfectly legal in Madrid, but don’t think that stopped one of these officers from taking exception.  Here is a photo of the LEGAL items (masks, flashlight, spray) that were in my possession at the time….. (La foto está en la entrada original).


First, I asked if I could call my lawyer and the officers said no, I had only one option and that was submit to a search, which I did.  I also asked permission to film the search.  Since they were accusing us using illegal drugs, I wanted to be able to prove beyond any doubt that we were carrying nothing illegal.  They said I could not film the search.   Upon finding my “V for Vendetta” masks, one police officer went ballistic.  After letting out a sarcastic laugh of indignation, he stated that, “estas mascaras son de un movimiento!” (these masks are from a movement!).  He asked me why I had the masks in my possession, and I replied that I had purchased them for the Cabalgata Indignada being held on December 28 at 19:00 in the Puerta de Acala, however, the officer seemed skeptical.


The same officer asked me what I did for a living here in Madrid and I truthfully answered that I did many things including teaching English.  He replied, “pues, tengo una hija y nunca la dejaria hacer clases con un gillipollas como tu” (well, I have a daughter and I would never let her do classes with a dickhead like you).

I was shocked, stunned.  Four men with guns have my brother and me against the wall, and one of them is now yelling at me and calling me a dickhead because I am carrying a shopping bag holding a mask from a “movement”.  I calmly replied, “pues, que pena porque aprenderia mucho, todos mis alumnos estan encantados con mis clases.” (well, what a shame because she would learn a lot, all my students love my classes).  The officer became enraged, perhaps because he did not like my response.  He began yelling in Spanish and his fellow officers got between him and me while he shouted, “por que siempre hay un payaso que tiene que tocarme los cojones?” (why is there always some clown that has to bust my balls?)

Upon considering this complete lack of professionalism from a supposed officer of the law, I began to get a bit scared.  The thought entered my mind that no real policeman would insult a person like that simply for carrying a mask.  Even if he was against theIndignado movement, it is not his place (and frankly, it is downright Orwellian) to criticize my political beliefs.

The officers continued to berate and insult me, to which I always replied calmly, yet trying my best to show that I would not be intimidated.  This did little to calm the situation, and at one point the officer told me to just suppose that he asked me to submit to a drug test, and if I passed it, he would let us go; however if I failed it, he could detain me.  I said that would be fine with me, provided I could call my lawyer first, and provided that he advised me that taking a drug test was a good idea.  Now the officer who had hurled the vast majority of the insults got directly into my face and said, “sabes lo que te digo, no me gusta tu cara!” (you know what? I don’t like your face!).  I had absolutely no response for that one, but it made me think even more that this was no police search, but most likely a robbery in progress.


After a bit of debate amongst themselves, the officers told us to pick up our things and go.  I asked if I could take a photo of them, but they said no.  I asked if I could photograph their badges and ID cards, but they said no.  I asked them to please identify themselves, and they all began saying their names and ID numbers at the same time as they walked away, making it impossible for me to know who they were, or even if they were real police officers.  My brother the tourist pleaded with me to let it go, and for his sake, I did just that, but a foul taste in my mouth remained.  I walked two blocks before I decided to go back and take photos of the place where it had all happened.  After that, I went directly to the Comisaria de Policia on the Calle Huertas to file a denuncia (official complaint).

I was nervous.  I was shaking.  I was about to press charges against 4 undercover cops in the city where I have lived for more than a decade.  But really, need I be afraid?  In my 42 years on this planet, I have never received as much as a speeding ticket, let alone been detained, arrested or in any kind of trouble with the authorities whatsoever.  I asked to speak with the Jefe (Chief of Police), since I thought filing charges against police officers could prove to be problematic.  After about an hour, I was allowed to see the Jefe de Policia in the Comisaria de Retiro on the Calle Huertas.  I told him my story, leaving out no detail and he was sympathetic, cordial, extremely amiable, but completely unhelpful.  No, I could not place a denunciabecause I did not have the names of the people I wanted to denounce.  I mentioned that all he had to do was take a look on his computer at who had called in my DNI an hour before, and he would have his man.  Unfortunately, he said that as the Huertas Street Comisaria is for the Retiro District, he could not access information about anything that had happened Downtown.  He did offer to give me his name and phone number, after I told him that I was afraid that this officer might be coming after me.  This did wonders to calm me down, as I was getting nervous about the possibility of an undercover policeman who “hated my face” and thought me a “dickhead” having access to all my data, while I hadn’t even a clue as to his identity.  Imagine my disappointment, when my calm turned to horror, upon leaving the police station, and discovering The Chief had handed me a piece of paper with no name that said only “Chief of Police in Retiro” and a landline number to the precinct.  All this after I had told him that someone claiming to be the police had searched me, insulted me in a threatening way, and then had made little effort to identify themselves, and that I was in fear for my safety.  Here is a photo of the piece of paper I was given from the extremely polite Retiro Police Chief… (también en la entrada original).


On my walk home, I was terrified once again.  I thought a piece of paper from a Chief would be enough to deter any loose cannon officer with my name and address, but since I had been basically blown off, the thought came to my mind that perhaps this Chief would contact these undercover officers to give them the heads up as to what I was saying and doing.  This morning I phoned my lawyer about going to the Downtown Comisaria to place my denuncia, but he recommended that I not go back to the police.  So, I went directly to a Spanish Judge at the Juzgado de Guardia(Courts on Duty) to file my complaint.


Now some questions I must ask…

Is this behavior normal for the Spanish police?

Were we stopped because we were smoking a cigarette, or because we are immigrants speaking in a language other than Spanish? (Recently, there have been massive police round-ups of illegal immigrants in the Tirso de Molina area).  Here are 2 links, one in English and one in Spanish …

Article in Spanish

Article in English

Did the police do anything illegal?  There was no violence or even an actual threat of violence.  But to my mind, when four armed men surround two civilians and begin insulting them with the most crude and ugly language possible, is it not reasonable to believe that the pair might be in danger?

If the Spanish police can legally search you with no probable cause and you are not even permitted to phone your lawyer, would it be too much to require the police to hand you a business card with the officer’s name and badge number? It can be quite intimidating to request this information, especially when the carrier of the data also carries a pistol and a grudge.

Why were the Police in the Comisaria de Retiro so unwilling to help me? I went in with an allegation of having been searched, denied council, insulted, berated and implicitly threatened by 4 undercover Spanish police officers who were unwilling to identify themselves, and while agreeing with me that it was not only unprofessional but also outrageous behavior, the Police Chief was completely unwilling to take my declaration, call the Chief at the other precinct, or even give me his real name! If the Retiro Chief of Police truly agrees that this kind of behavior is intolerable, why wasn’t a real offer to assist me extended, and why was I shuffled out the door with a smile, a cordial farewell and piece of advice to sleep on it before I did anything precipitous?

Why are the police stopping only immigrants and those speaking in languages other than Spanish? The overriding theme in all the articles I have seen on the issue is this, Spanish people are not being stopped.  If you are black, Asian, speaking in English or Arabic, or simply not Spanish enough, you are much more likely to be detained, questioned, searched, insulted and persecuted by the Madrid Police, than if you do the “right” thing (look and speak Spanish).

And finally, why in the world would the Police think that the Indignados are the enemy?  Despite the fact that these guys are out in the street night after night protesting for YOU (how many cop 1%-ers can there be?), the Madrid Police are against them? How long will it take until the police wake up and realize that they too are being swindled by the real criminals in Spain? And why do you need a “disgusting”  “dickhead” whose “face you don’t like and would never let near your daughter” to point out the obvious?



2 comentarios

Archivado bajo Sin categoría

2 Respuestas a “Un nuevo ‘indignado’ (en ‘Notes from the Spanish Revolution’) – O ‘Encontrándose con la policía’

  1. Thanks for the press! We need to get the word out as to what the Police are doing to the 99%. My brother and I happened to be speaking in a language other than Spanish which seems to have been our offense, but this happens all over Madrid, especially in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations, and could happen to anyone that a policeman deems “different”. The lesson here is, if you are not a rich white person, then the police, the government, the courts, and even your own embassy (in my case) WILL NOT help you. We indignados must work to change this culture of impunity that the 1% and their agents wield like a mace. I hope to see you and your readers in the streets this summer. Things are sure to heat up now that cuts are on the way, and every publication from here to Nairobi says that the economic situation in Spain is only going to get worse.

    P.S. Love the blog!

    • Thanks for visiting (and commenting!) the blog! Getting the word out is difficult, and now with Cosidó (good point in your post) this is gonna be a non-stop party. What you say about being rich and white… same we mentioned in your blog about the ‘spectacle’: apparently I know a Supreme Court’s magistrado’s daughter. If she is treated like that, I’d love to see the rection.

      Take care buddy!


Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Google+ photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google+. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )


Conectando a %s