A Madrid resident has been fined by the police for carrying a bag depicting a cat’s face and the slogan “All Cats Are Beautiful.”
According to her own version of events, posted on Facebook and Twitter, Belén Lobeto was returning home on Sunday when two police officers approached her. An argument ensued over allegations that the slogan was really a stand-in for “All Cops Are Bastards.”
The phrase “All cops are bastards” has been documented since the 1970s, and became popular after a British punk band named 4 Skins used it in a 1980 song. It has also been adopted by some soccer hooligans.
“The police have just fined me across from my house (near the Calderón) for carrying this bag.”
As a result, the law enforcement agents presented her with a fine that she is promising to appeal.
The sanction is based on Article 37 of the new Citizen Safety Law – popularly referred to as the Gag Law because of its restrictive nature, particularly when it comes to capturing images of police officers or holding public protests.
According to the riot officers who fined her, Lobeto incurred in “disrespect for a member of law enforcement in the exercise of his or her duties to protect citizen safety.”
The fine could be anywhere between €100 and €600.
Lobato’s tweet denouncing the incident, which took place near the Vicente Calderón stadium on the same day that Barça and Sevilla faced off in the Copa del Rey final, has been shared over 13,000 times and made the front page of the online news aggregator Menéame.
In a Facebook post, Lobato – who could not be reached for comment – explains the incident:
“I live next to the Calderón [stadium] and they’re playing the Copa del Rey final today. The police on duty must have very little to do, because as I was calmly walking home, suddenly two law enforcement officers ran after me to ask for ID and inform me that they were going to fine me for carrying this bag. I asked for explanations and said I really doubted that I was calling attention to myself or committing any crime, and they said to go tell it to the judge. They handed me the notice, which of course I didn’t sign, and I saw that the reason for the fine is something that is not anywhere on my bag, and when I told them that what they wrote down is A LIE, and that I can prove it to a judge, they said to go tell my government delegate about it, and that they were fining me for the acronym, which is there on the bag. I tried to talk to them calmly and reason with them, but it was impossible for a change, and I was forced to keep quiet to prevent them from slapping me with a bigger fine. I also told them that there are lots of more important things to deal with. What a fucking disgrace of a country. Yes, ALL CATS ARE BEAUTIFUL. And whoever says otherwise is lying.”
The government delegation in Madrid will now have to decide whether the sanction was justified or not. Lobeto will have the right to appeal before a judicial authority, said police sources.
A similar incident involving the ACAB acronym was reported in Alicante in 2015, and a year earlier two German courts handed down convictions against individuals who displayed “ACAB” and the numbers 1312, where the latter were understood to stand for the same letters.
English version by Susana Urra.