Police beat May 15 protestors at Valencia swearing-in ceremony

At least 18 injured, including security agents and one freshman lawmaker

Violence broke out in Valencia between police and May 15 demonstrators outside the regional parliament on Thursday, as protestors gathered to wait for new lawmakers to be sworn in.

At least 18 people, including one lawmaker, were injured after national police began beating members of the public with their nightsticks, witnesses said. Five people were arrested.

The demonstrators had begun gathering outside the local parliament before dawn to wait for the deputies, and began shouting when the swearing-in ceremony began. Among other things, they were protesting against lawmakers from the Popular Party who have been targeted in corruption investigations.

When police began to dislodge the protestors from the parliament's entrance, several officers struck demonstrators.

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In a video posted on YouTube, three officers can be seen chasing a young man. When the other protestors surround the police, one officer is seen pulling out his nightstick. Then a young woman falls to the ground with a cut lip. The video also shows the crowd beginning to gather and the police lashing out with their batons.

Juan Ponce, a freshman lawmaker from the regional Compromís party who was being sworn-in, was struck on the arm by police when he went outside to speak with the protestors. Eight policemen were among the injured.

González Pons, the Popular Party spokesman, blamed Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba for the incidents, and said that if he wasn't due to stand as Socialist candidate for prime minister he would have already had the demonstrators forcibly removed from protest camps around the country. "You either do nothing or let the police get carried away," Pons said. "He should try focusing on solving this problem, which is becoming a problem for everybody."

In solidarity with their Valencian counterparts, protestors in Girona have called for an all-night vigil in front of City Hall beginning on Thursday.

Police leading away a protestor outside the Valencia assembly.
Police leading away a protestor outside the Valencia assembly.BIEL ALIÑO
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