Third day of Sol state of siege

Police tactics aimed at wearing down 15-M protestors

EL PAÍS Madrid 4 AGO 2011 - 21:06 CET

The drive by the 15-M protestors to reclaim the Puerta del Sol entered its third day on Thursday, with the police trying to wear out demonstrators by showing them they will be standing their ground in Madrid's main square.

The 15-M supporters took to the streets early in the morning in their drive to re-enter Puerta del Sol, from where they were forcibly removed on Tuesday. Officers had cordoned off the square, blocked traffic and closed the Sol Metro station by mid-afternoon.

"The authorities are embarking on a strategy to wear us out," said one member of the 15-M organization's information committee.

Police also evicted customers from businesses around Sol. At Hotel Europa, officers asked the management to close the outdoor cafe on Carmen street and shut the restaurant's doors. "The restaurant is open but only to hotel guests," said the manager.

On Wednesday night, police and about 2,000 people played a game of cat-and-mouse as the demonstrators tried to regain the square through different streets. The protestors gathered at Kilometer Zero, in front the Madrid City Hall, with the intention of reclaiming the Puerta del Sol they lost Tuesday morning. But again they were pushed back by police.

The evening started with a march from Atocha, which grew larger as people began passing through Cibeles and up the Gran Vía heading toward the center of Madrid.

The march began peacefully, with demonstrators chanting their usual slogans, calling for more democracy, better representation and concrete measures against the crisis. By the time it reached the Chamber of Deputies, people began to get agitated.

The police barricade, guarded by some 20 officers dressed in anti-riot gear and various heavy vehicles, prevented the people from marching up San Jerónimo street.

Puerta del Sol had been cordoned off since 6pm. Officers prevented anyone from entering the square they suspected would set up a campsite or even to just loiter near the Sol Metro entrances. For the second evening, the normally busy subway station closed seven hours earlier than usual.

Police asked a number of people for identification, and told those who they didn't let past that they were acting "on government orders."

Dozens of the "outraged ones" waited for the march to reach the plaza's perimeter. When the people reached the square, they were met with applause.

"This square belongs to the people," they shouted. One shirtless man, who appeared to lead the demonstrators, began trying to push his way through the officers.

There were several moments of tension at different points around the square but no serious incidents. By 11pm, the groups disbanded and retreated to Callao Square, where 15-M organizers quickly convened an assembly.

Otras noticias

Protestors from the 15-M movement stop the traffic on Madrid's Gran Vía on Thursday. / SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ

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