March 4, 2024

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Home » Content » Disappointed independentists, anarchists and apolitical youth: the hard core of the riots in Catalonia
Some Telegram channels coordinate the mobilizations in real time and even point out where to find barricading material

Pol Pareja 17/10

Kids who have grown during the years of progress specified their frustration and now set targets for the Government and the Department of Interior

Participants in the demonstrations rule out infiltrating as Quim Torra says and a part of secessionism

“What you can’t do is throw wood into the fire and then complain because it’s burning.” This is how one of the participants in the riots that have spread in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia during the last week responded on Thursday. He is 21 years old and acknowledges that he is independentist, but explains that the group with which he goes to the demonstrations has profiles of all kinds. “Many do not even care about politics and have not voted in their lives,” he summarizes. “But people are pissed off.”

The virulence of the protests recorded in recent days has caught almost everyone with their feet changed. To the Government and the Ministry of Interior, but also to ANC and Òmnium, the organizations that had so far controlled the independence movements to turn them into an impeccable movement unable to throw a paper to the ground. Even the CoRs, which represented the most belligerent faction of secessionism, have been overwhelmed by the actions being carried out by groups of young people, many of them minors, who have never seen at their meetings.

Who are these young people? How do they coordinate? Are they infiltrators who claim to harm independence, as the president of the Generalitat said on Wednesday?

After a dozen protesters interviewed, almost all on condition of anonymity, it is impossible to draw a concrete profile of the hooded men who are facing the police these days. There are many different types: young people from the independence left, anarchists and even 16-year-old kids who don’t care about politics and just look for adrenaline. Nor are they perfectly organized and many make decisions on the fly, although as the days progress every day they are better equipped – helmets, goggles, knee pads – and seem to dominate the fight more in the street.

Almost all of them are under 25 years old and saw in 2017 how the police charged their neighbors in the polling stations during the October 1 vote. For many, that was their first political experience in a generation that has grown with the process as a backdrop for the past seven years.

What all respondents do agree is that their actions are always in response to police attacks. They also ensure that those who star in the clashes are not infiltrated, nor are foreign groups that have come to sow chaos and add another determining factor: there is a generation gap that separates the youngest, supporters of tougher actions, from the independentists who have manifested in recent years.

All of the protesters consulted also insist that they have not intentionally burned any of the vehicles burned on Wednesday in Barcelona and blame it on the fires they created on the barricades.

The frustration of the process

“We have grown up with the procés and the 1-O,” explains a 19-year-old university student from the Sagrera neighborhood, who declares himself independentist. “We have been enduring for many years, paying attention to the elderly and we have already seen what it has been for: they are all in jail.” According to this young man, many people around him considered that the peaceful protests carried out by independence did not help, but they were repressed because throwing a single stone was very badly seen in the demonstrations of the process. “Little by little this has changed and now the taboo has been broken,” he says. “No one scares you for breaking things anymore.”

“We already know that burning containers will not achieve independence, but it is that we have peacefully already seen that neither,” adds a girl of little more than 20 years, a student of Humanities at the Pompeu Fabra University. “At a minimum we can show the world our frustration.”

Coral Latorre, spokesperson for the Student Union, believes that protesters that generate unrest are “a very minor part” that, however, “focuses all media attention.” According to this student, there is a campaign of “criminalization of independence” although it recognizes that hooded images harm the movement. “The media are taking advantage of it,” she said Thursday at the Plaza Universitat, a few minutes after a student march began.

Last Wednesday night, one of the days with more damage, spoke with a group of six young students from the University of Barcelona. Among them there were no common positions on independence. Some were, others were not, but no one was part of any particular secessionist group. After chatting with them for a while, even those who declared themselves independentists found that separating from Spain is unfeasible today. Despite this, they do not hesitate to go out every night to face the police because they consider that the penalties imposed by the Supreme Court are an injustice, reports Oriol Solé.

When several of the protesters are asked, it follows from their responses that many of these young people grew up under the mantra of peaceful independence and have become disenchanted to see the result. After condemning the procés leaders, they channel their anger on the street and no longer direct their attacks towards the central government.

Now both the Government and the Department of Interior have also become targets of the hooded, as it was seen during the demonstrations on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday’s objective was to request the resignation of the Interior Minister, Miquel Buch, for police actions in recent days. “The hypocrisy of the Government is a shame,” said Coral Latorre, the spokeswoman for the student union. “On the one hand it condemns the sentence and on the other, it sends us to the Mossos to repress us.”

Anarchism and the apolitical

“No State will set us free,” several of the protesters from last Tuesday and Thursday shouted in the streets of Barcelona, ​​while some barricaded with containers. The consulted sources recognize that the current participants in the mobilizations go far beyond independence: members of the anarchist group have joined as well as kids without determined political objectives, seeking action and adrenaline in the streets of the city.

“Many of us did not go to the airport on Monday, but seeing how things have evolved, we have signed up,” said an anarchist in a telephone conversation around thirty, who recognizes that members of the Anarchist Federation of Catalonia are participating in the riots . “Any insurrectional movement must take advantage,” he continued. “Shattering things does not help much, but, at the very least, it serves to remember that there is no social peace that they say there is in Catalonia.”

Other protesters consulted explain that they neither do nor do they have independence, but what they are looking for is a night of action in the streets of Barcelona. “Nights of this type are a pass,” summed up a 23-year-old boy with his face covered on Monday in the El Prat airport parking lot. “You run, they chase you, you hide … It’s like a fucking movie, uncle,” he riveted.

Beyond the Democratic Tsunami

Although the focus these days has been on the Democratic Tsunami for the siege of the airport of Barcelona last Monday, this organization has not convened or coordinated any of the demonstrations that have ended the destruction recorded in Barcelona and other Catalan cities.

There are some Telegram accounts that are carrying the singing voice in this week’s protests. They coordinate protesters in real time, report the movements of police vans and claim people at points where protesters are missing. The increase in subscribers to these channels is being exponential in recent days as well as the people who open an account in this messaging network, which promises to better protect anonymity.

The most numerous channel is Anonymous Catalonia (120,000 members at the time of writing this article), which even last October 15, during a demonstration, showed the points of the street where you could find “interesting material” to make barricades. This channel ensures that it defends non-violence, but considers that barricading with fire and cutting roads with a covered face is not violence.

Other groups such as CNI Catalunya (20,777 members), PicnicxRep República (33,000) and L’Alerta (41,900 registered) indicate the points at which calls, police deployments or charges take place.

This last channel was born as a whatsapp group before the October 1, 2017 vote and became a Telegram channel when they saw more and more people sign up. In an interview with of December 2017, they explained that they opened the channel on September 20 of that year and managed it among eight people. After 1-O, they changed the name of the Alertes 1-O channel to L’Alerta. At that time they declared, anonymously, that the objective of the channel was “to transmit the most relevant last hours, to deny rumors, to report on the ground what was happening and everything with the utmost immediacy”.


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