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Death of African street vendor sparks clashes with police in Madrid

Six arrested in Lavapiés after crowds get violent in wake of Senegalese man’s death

Riot police in Lavapiés last night during the disturbances.
Riot police in Lavapiés last night during the disturbances.

The death of a Senegalese hawker on Thursday in the Madrid district of Lavapiés sparked a wave of street protests, with demonstrators setting fire to trash bins and parked vehicles. The police responded with charges and rubber bullets.

Six Spanish citizens, one of them a minor, were arrested, according to Madrid police sources. The protests spread from street to street in this centrally located neighborhood with a large immigrant population that has been quickly gentrifying in recent years.

A man sets a trash bin on fire in Calle Mesón de Paredes.
A man sets a trash bin on fire in Calle Mesón de Paredes. EFE

The unrest took place between 9pm and 1.30am, resulting in extensive damage to bus shelters, patrol cars and bank branches. Protesters hurled stones and blunt objects, and there were at least 19 reports of minor injuries, said the local emergency services. A police spokesman said that 10 officers had been slightly injured.

Mame Mbaye, a 35-year-old street vendor from Senegal, died on Thursday after going into cardiac arrest, said police sources. Several witnesses and one of the deceased’s colleagues said that he collapsed while being chased by policemen on motorcycles.

Riot police face protesters in Lavapiés.
Riot police face protesters in Lavapiés. EFE

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena announced that there will be an investigation. City sources have denied that there was a police chase.

The incident took place a few minutes before 5pm at number 10 Oso street. After receiving a call from the emergency services, local police officers in the area reportedly found a man lying on the ground who was not breathing. According to the police’s own report, officers began to attempt to resuscitate him until emergency health workers arrived at the scene.

The deceased did not have any ID, and it was a colleague who described him as a Senegalese street vendor who had been living in Spain for 14 years without a residence permit.

English version by Susana Urra.

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