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Arrests in Barcelona against the squatter movement

anarchists | 11.05.2007 03:56 | Repression | World

On 23 April, 2007, Javier Mazas and Peter Gelderloos were arrested during the police response to a small demonstration organized by the Assamblea de la Okupacion (Squatters Assembly) on La Rambla, in Barcelona.

At the demonstration, someone set off a petarda, a loud device designed to shoot flyers into the air. The police response was exaggerated, and they arrested one demonstrator. Peter, a US citizen, was arrested blocks away from the demonstration when police became suspicious based on his appearance. At the time, Peter was observing the first arrest and making sure police were not mistreating the detainee (in the US, Peter is active with Copwatch, as well as Anarchist Black Cross, Food Not Bombs, and other groups).

The two are currently charged with illegal demonstration and public disorder, and a terrorism-related article has been applied to impact the severity of sentencing. Javier and Peter currently face between three and six years imprisonment. State repression is proceeding from two angles-- first, police are falsely claiming they saw these two set off the petarda, and second, the government is trying to portray a small protest as a semi-terrorist act. The investigating judge yelled at Peter that in the US he would be sent to Guantanamo for such an action, and the prosecutor and judge have described the petarda as a mortar, and the protest as an urban guerrilla action designed to send the message that the squatters were a paramilitary force. The government also initiated deportation proceedings against Peter, and a 7 year ban from the Schengen territories (most of western Europe), falsely claiming he was in Spain illegally (Peter's passport, which could prove his legal entry, was locked up with him during the 48 hours allowed for appeal). After two days in custody, Javier was released to await trial, while the judge imposed an unprecedented 30,000 euros bail on Peter, who was sent to Modelo prison to await trial.

Surprisingly, the Barcelona collectives were able to raise bail in just one day, and after 2 days in Modelo, Peter was released on provisional liberty, though he has to sign in at court every two weeks and remain in Spain until trial, which might not begin for two years or more.

The two arrested would like to raise money to recover the bail and pay back the Barcelona collectives (the money is refunded after trial but the groups here are already strapped and the sooner they get paid back the better). They also need money to cover court costs. If you are able to send money, email shigmagism (at) yahoo dot com for directions, explaining how much you can send and whether it is a loan (to defray bail, which is refunded eventually) or a gift (to help cover legal costs).

An additional effect of the charges is that Peter is prevented from returning to the US and continuing his work there. (He has support obligations to several prisoners, had been planning on working with an infoshop, and had been preparing a tour for his two recent books-- "How Nonviolence Protects the State" and "Consensus: A New Handbook for Grassroots Social, Political, and Environmental Groups").

Another important way to help is to organize solidarity with the movement in Spain. Javier and Peter are not the first two to be framed by the police in Barcelona. There is a strong climate of repression here. Squatted social centers are evicted every month, and anarchists and squatters are in prison or awaiting trial for fighting gentrification, defending squats, fighting the prison system, supporting immigrants, and showing solidarity with the Italian anarchist movement (which itself was recently hammered by a strong wave of repression).

You can find more information about some of these other cases at:

(much of this is in Spanish, underscoring the need for more translations and communication)



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  1. Nonviolence is the most effective way to resist the state — Keith McHenry