Society 22/02/2021

The Mossos admit possible "errors of communication" in the kettling of protesters in Gran de Gràcia

Operation left "room for improvement" but "way out" always possible, say police

3 min
The Mossos d'Esquadra, acting during the demonstration for the imprisonment of Pablo Hasel in Barcelona
Available in:

Barcelona"The images are hard and we do not like them, it could have been done better. But it was the worst night of looting and riots". These are the words of Pere Ferrer, general director of the Catalan police - known as the Mossos d'Esquadra - on the police operation that on Saturday, the fifth night of riots in the protests over Pablo Hasél, ended up kettling a group of demonstrators in Carrer Gran de Gràcia in Barcelona, an action that has already generated criticism from Irídia, an organisation which defends of human rights. Ferrer said that they are now analysing the operation, which "left room for improvement", but has claimed that the protesters had "a way out at all times", although the images show simultaneous charges from one end and the other of the demonstration and protestors not knowing where to flee.

What he has admitted is that "there were possibly communication errors" because of "the complexity" of the operation, which meant that the officers on one side and on the other did not have all the information about what was happening. The director asked all the photographs from the previous night be taken into account before judging this specific performance and has assured that it occurred during a protest that had generated "serious disturbances and vandalism in Passeig de Gràcia" and that there had been a "very hard exercise of violence against the police".

Ferrer has detailed that when the police was redirecting the demonstrators towards the Carrer Gran de Gràcia the incidents were maintained, in spite of the fact that it was a far smaller group. He considered it "unfair" to see the Mossso d'Esquadra as "a problem", when, he has said, they are the "solution", words that arrive after a weekend of tensions of tensions between the Department of Home Affairs and the police unions, which complain of lack of political support.

The balance of six nights of riots in several cities of the country is 109 people arrested, 32 of whom were minors. This last night eight arrests have been made and, according to Ferrer, it has been "tense" but less so than on previous ones. The police director has insisted that the situation that is being experienced these days is new and complex because there are some people who call the protests and then, in the riots, the police find a "much more diverse" combination of demonstrators, and even, he said, a profile of "opportunists" who have nothing to do with the mobilisation.

The director of the police has not questioned the police charge in the Via Laietana against two youngsters who held a banner which, inspired by Hong Kong protestors, read: "You have taught us that being peaceful is useless". The author of the banner, documentary filmmaker Fèlix Colomer, has explained in a Twitter thread that he and the other youngster stood still in front of the police line when they warned of imminent charges and were rammed and beaten. "The message by putting us in front of them was intended to show that in the most peaceful way in the world you are also bothersome, you also get harassed and insulted, and that's where the banner's slogan comes into effect," Colomer explains.

CDRs call for a demonstration tonight

Different CDR have already spread a call on social networks for a new demonstration against the imprisonment of the rapper Pablo Hasél, who was arrested on Tuesday last week at the University of Lleida. Thus, today will be the seventh consecutive night of protests in the streets of the Catalan capital. They have also made a call to join Telegram channel La partida final which this past week has called or joined different protests around the country

stats