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article imageVideo: Austerity grows, police lash out at protesters in Spain

By Anne Sewell     Apr 28, 2012 in World
Madrid - In a country where one in four citizens are now unemployed anger grows and with it, the brutality of the police against demonstrators.
Digital Journal recently reported that Spain has slipped back into recession. And now Spain has reached the highest level of unemployment in all of Europe, with 25% unable to find work.
As unemployment rises and the Spanish people's benefits are cut, anger is taking to the streets of Spain.
The more the desperation grows, the harsher the measures taken by police.
In the video Spanish police arrest a student, whose main crime is filming what he interpreted to be police brutality.
RT interviews Tohil Delgado, a Students Union spokesman. Delgado states that the police had stopped an immigrant family in the street and had started to beat a 19-year-old woman. He says, "I took my cell phone and started to film."
He paid for this action. He states: "I was threatened with death, beaten and locked up in a cell for 39 hours. I was told I would be sent to prison for 3 years."
Many cases of officers allegedly abusing their powers are rife in Spain. For a long time scenes of police brutality were relatively unknown, but now with the many mass demonstrations gripping Spain's major cities, the severe actions of police officers is coming to the forefront.
Tens of thousands of Spanish people have been protesting for some time, but the increase in police brutality is fairly recent and is especially bad since the new conservative government came into power last year.
In February, student protesters in Valencia were particularly hard hit when what started as a peaceful demonstration ended with violence as police employed batons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters. The demonstration was against the reduction in education spending, including lack of heating in classrooms during the cold winter months.
Joan Tarda, congressman with the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party stated, "We cannot allow young men to be hit in the face while handcuffed, because the only thing that is slapped in the face here is democracy."
However, even anger in Parliament falls on deaf ears with the top brass.
Jorge Fernandez Diaz, Spain's Internal Affairs Minister states in the video: "The majority of meetings in February were not legal. It means that there is no reason to institute proceedings against any policeman."
In Barcelona, after last month's general strike, more clashes with police were seen. Protesters were arrested, but very few of these arrests were made public.
Police Union spokesman, Jose Maria Benito Celador says: "In Spain there is an obsession to conceal the crime statistics. No one knows them except the government. We always act according to political advice. Based on this we know whether to be permissive or not."
RT's interviewer closes with, "As the outcry of the Spanish public grows, more and more people are labeling the police as protectors of unpopular government policies, with officers increasingly being accused of breaking the very laws they are supposed to uphold."
More about Spain, Austerity, Budget cuts, Unemployment, Protesters
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