Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Predict a Riot...

It's hard to believe six months have passed since a 16-year-old Spanish boy was killed by a neo-Nazi in Madrid, just steps from my door. In the month that followed, we had a rash of "peaceful" demonstrations in my neighborhood that turned into violent battles between Spanish riot police and youths. Besides occasional appearances by Redskins (anti-fascists) to leave flowers and dedications at the site of the killing and Skinheads (to destroy the flowers and dedications), the neighborhood has been pretty calm in the past five months. (Well, at least regarding the clash between Skins, Reds, and the police -- we still have the gangs, drug dealers, and prostitutes to deal with...)

Today, unfortunately, all of that is going to change. Just 20 minutes ago, a "peaceful" march began to mark the six-month anniversary of the killing. They've started in the adjacent neighborhood and will be working their way towards mine. The last time this happened, there was no peaceful march. Fights between Skinheads and Redskins broke out at the starting point, the police got involved, and the whole wave of them ended up in my neighborhood. Garbage bins were set on fire or toppled over, cops pulled teenagers into the alleyways near my house or on to cars parked in my street to beat them, kids broke the windows of apartment building doors, and any neighbor lucky enough to be indoors stayed there. The elderly deaf lady who lives across the hall from me was not so lucky -- she had been out to do the shopping and encountered mass chaos and violence on her way home. She managed to make it inside but was traumatized by what she had seen.

I can't see why today should be any different. Tensions are particularly high on both sides. The non-fascists will use the six-month anniversary as an excuse to protest the growing tide of racism and anti-immigration in the country (of course, I agree with them ideologically, but I don't think setting trash cans on fire is the way to get your point across). The Skins will jump on the growing anti-immigration sentiment (including the Spanish government, unfortunately, which has announced they will clamp down on illegals -- more on that in a later post). The police will do what they always do: nothing at first, allowing things to escalate, and then grabbing anything that moves and escalating tensions even more.

And as if that weren't enough, one of the bars in my neighborhood has planned a huge Dominican street party for later today. The bar is about 15 seconds from the site where the boy was killed -- the site which we assume will once again be the epicenter of violence. What could be better than a group of charged-up anti-immigrant Skinheads coming up against a group of immigrants drinking in the street?

Yes, it looks to be an exciting (but not enjoyable) day in my neighborhood. Let's just hope it's not a bloody one.

1 comment: said...

Hi there, we're practically neighbours as I live in Alcorcón like you, I think. I like your articles and I'll list them on my site. If you want to get together for a coffee and chat, Google me and email me.
Steven Starry