Madrid's indignant cop is back on the beat but not backing down

Suspended for joining 15-M protests, Roky Sierra is holding on to his ideas Sierra has since become a shooting instructor

Policeman Javier Roca Sierra, aka "Roky".
Policeman Javier Roca Sierra, aka "Roky".CLAUDIO ÁLVAREZ

On July 23 of last year a large man in striped t-shirt, blue jeans, close-cropped hair, thick goatee beard and reading glasses shyly approached an improvised platform in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square to give a speech to thousands of people: "This is a personal message, I'm speaking only for myself. My name is Javier Roca Sierra... I'm a policeman, in Madrid... I and many of my fellow policemen are also indignant, and we support you."

People seated on the pavement began to applaud. They had come there from far and wide, on foot, to re-live the spirit of the demonstration of May 15, and show their indignation at a system that appeared to be even farther from democracy.

The so-called "indignant marches" had been warmly received on their arrival in Madrid. Javier Roca, 47, known as "Roky" to his colleagues, is a man of emotional character, who likes rock climbing. The shows of affection from the tired demonstrators gave him the energy to take the microphone and deliver his message.

At first his speech was like others heard in the square: solidarity, the need for change, a more decent world to leave to our children. But when Roca said he was a policeman, an "indignant" cop who was also speaking to his colleagues, people began calling on the nearby police to join the movement: "Police, join in! Police, join in!"

"Don't shout too much, because my job may be on the line," warned Roky, as if he knew what was about to befall him. In September, Roca was summoned to the Disciplinary Management office to hand in his pistol and his badge. He got five days' suspension for "abuse of power."

Last week, in a café in central Madrid, he reviewed the past months and wondered why he was sanctioned. "I think I would do it again. I did nothing wrong. I said what I said because I believe it. Times are hard and we all need to freely express what we think if we are to change things."

In his almost 25 years in the Municipal Police, Javier Roca has had not one stain on his record. He describes himself as a person who has always seen life as "a chance to do something for others."

When he was young, before joining the police, he and some friends in the working-class neighborhood of Usera created an association called Albanta, to prevent drug addiction. "These were the 1980s, the hard drug wave. We organized activities, such as mountain climbing," Roca explains.

After that he thought of spending his life in a job where he would be helping people. "I thought of paramedic, fireman... But I couldn't bear the sight of blood, and to be a fireman you had to run a whole lot. So I joined the police force."

After some years on patrol, he specialized in shooting instruction. His ex-pupils say he is an excellent teacher. The suspension will cost him a pay increment normally granted after 25 years on the force, which he says he could well use. He is married, with two children.

"I have often wondered what I would most like to pass on to my kids," he says. "It isn't money, or a mortgage. What I think I can leave them is an education based on not living with your back turned to the reality around you."

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