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A Sunny Afternoon of Rioting in Barcelona

Crusties and trade unionists wept in each other's arms.

Photos by Alejandra Núñez, Santiago Salvador and Emma Gomis.

After a relatively quiet Thursday morning, enlivened only by the constant twitching of store blinds by nervous shop-owners, Barcelona was swept up in a sunny afternoon of riots that claimed the lives of most of the wheelie bins and Starbucks windows in the city centre. The protest, organised by workers' unions the CCOO and UGT, was scheduled to start at Placa Catalunya at around 7PM. That plan, however, was never fully realised, since the thousands of people walking to the meeting point had managed to already engage themselves in battle by 5.30PM. In the next three hours, the eight entrances to the square got blocked by walls of trash cans, while the police ran around a lot outside. The whole thing could easily have been regarded as a well-orchestrated and planned attack, but from where we stood, it was rather obvious that the protesters had also managed to trap themselves between their own barricades. At about 7.45PM, while traipsing around Via Laitena, I overheard an eight-year-old boy ask his friends, "Is the fun over?" To which his even younger friend replied: "I'm not sure. There's still one BBVA [Spanish bank]…"


The CNT (a Spanish confederation of anarcho labour unions) had strategically placed part of its youth division in front of the main Zara store in the centre of the city (Zara is owned by Amancio Ortega, the fifth richest man in the world according to Forbes). They knew ALL the songs: "Do Not Look at Us, Join", "General Strike Against Capital" and "This Is Not a Crisis, It's the System". I genuinely saw a crustie and a veteran trade unionist weeping at the sight of it.

Later, Zara was ransacked and some of the dummies got taken for a ride.

Here are some photos we took:

The numbers of people in Plaza Catalunya made a police charge seem impossible. Turns out you should never underestimate the mossos [Catalonian Police]. Ever.

A reader sent us this video that shows the looting and burning of a Starbucks shop in Plaza Urquinaona.

Watch our new film, Spain's Neo-Revolutionaries, at from Monday. The trailer is here.