Society 19/02/2021

Police leadership concerned about violence on streets and towards officers

Commanders express their support of officers and expect a complicated weekend

3 min
A demonstrator throwing a stone yesterday against a van of the Mossos in Aragon street.
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BarcelonaAround forty commanders of the Catalan police, known as the Mossos d'Esquadra, have met this morning in the Egara HQ in the leadership's weekly meeting, which was centred, logically, around the protests of the last three days in Catalonia over the imprisonment of Pablo Hasél. They have shown concern for the violence on the streets and for the fact that the police are a target for demonstrators. That is why all those who have spoken have wanted to express their support for police officers. According to corps sources, the director of the Mossos, Major Josep Lluís Trapero, wanted to make this support explicit to the agents of Vic police station and all those who have found themselves in a situation of danger, apart from asking the commanders to be close in the next few days, which he has defined as "complicated".

Despite noting that the police is a target for rioters, they have said that this will not condition the actions of the riot police. However, according to the same sources, the commanders are worried about not knowing how long the protests will last. They consider that not even the participants themselves know, since it depends on the number of people who join them. In fact, the police have not seen a clear organisation behind the marches in which the only common profile is that protestors are "very young", some of whom were already on police files. It is considered that they are people who, due to the pandemic, "have nothing else" and have been able to find a kind of fun in the riots. This weekend is expected to be even more complicated.

Despite the fact that on the third night of demonstrations the Mossos only fired 14 foam projectiles - in the two previous nights 420 were fired -, Mossos sources have ruled out any indication of using them less after a 19-year-old girl lost her eye in Tuesday's protest in Barcelona. They have assessed that so far the firing was authorised as long as there were adequate reasons for it. The commanders have said that they are "the most interested" in clarifying the cause of the loss of the girl's eye and have not made any reference to the criticism received over the past few hours from several political parties, including JxCat - which manages the Department of Home Affairs. They have considered that it is up to society, Parliament and the Government to decide on the model of public order and that the Mossos "will adapt".

The police leadership has shown a willingness to flee from corporatism and self-criticism. For example, they have pointed out that one of the aspects to improve is the forecast of mobilisation to minimise public disorder although "it is very hard" because they think that even those who lead the marches do not know what they want to do. Despite the criticism received by the officers, the commanders have noted that police are offering to work and have argued that they have tried to rationalise their numbers. They have also disassociated the fact of targeting the Mossos from the controversy of using foam bullets, since the assault on Vic police station was before the girl lost her eye. As for the arrest of Hasél, they have assessed that it was done correctly in order to avoid adding more tension to this conflict.

Detainees released on bail

The detainees in the riots over Hasel's incarceration are still appearing in court. Ten detainees have appeared before Lleida courts, seven in Barcelona and one in Tarragona. In all cases they have been released after being charged. Most of them have refused to declare. The judges have required them to appear in court when requested and investigate them for a crime of public disorder, damages and attack police officers. Since Tuesday, when the protests over Hasél's imprisonment began, the Mossos d'Esquadra have arrested 51 people ,40 of whom have been brought to court. Only one detainee has entered prison on remand in Barcelona and the rest have been released on bail.

In all of the cases the investigations are for public disorder and in some other crimes have been added: in Vic, criminal damage for the destruction of the police station, and both in Barcelona and Girona they also include criminal damage in addition to assaulting a police officer and battery. As for Tarragona, the detainee is accused of assaulting the police.