Spain’s “Gag Law”

Madrid police drop action against woman with All Cats Are Beautiful bag

Decision was based on “ambivalence” of the ACAB acronym, popularly used to mean All Cops Are Bastards

The offending bag.
The offending bag.

The Madrid police force has decided to take no further action against a young woman who was reported by riot officers for carrying a bag they claimed was a deliberate insult against law enforcement officers.

Belén Lobeto turned to social media to complain about the incident, which took place on Sunday near the Vicente Calderón soccer stadium. Her tweet about what happened was shared more than 20,000 times, eliciting numerous responses from internet users.

According to her version of events, two riot officers – on duty in the area because of the Kings Cup final between Barcelona and Sevilla – approached her and asked about her black-and-white bag, which depicted a cat’s face, the acronym ACAB in gothic letters and the phrase “All Cats Are Beautiful.”

The officers said that ACAB really stood for “All Cops Are Bastards,” a well-known anti-police slogan popularized in the 1980s by British punk band 4 Skins and adopted by many soccer hooligans.

Police officials said this decision was made in view “of the circumstances” surrounding the incident and “the ambivalence” of the acronym

The Madrid police commissioner has decided to drop all action against Lobeto, who was facing a fine of anywhere between €100 and €600 for an offense included in the controversial Citizen Safety Law.

Police officials said this decision was made in view “of the circumstances” surrounding the incident and “the ambivalence” of the acronym. In the meantime, the department will further investigate the matter.

The Citizen Safety Law, introduced by the Popular Party (PP), went into effect on July 1, 2015 and has drawn much criticism from the opposition for its crackdown on the right to public assembly, among other things. This piece of legislation is popularly referred to as the Gag Law, and other parties have stated that they will repeal it if they win the upcoming general elections of June 26.

There are precedents for police and court action against the ACAB acronym, in Spain and elsewhere. A similar incident 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.


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