A police report from the Madrid National Police department has contradicted claims from the center-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens) that members of its group were physically assaulted at the Madrid Gay Pride parade on Saturday.
Members of Ciudadanos – including the party’s parliamentary spokesperson, Inés Arrimadas, and the deputy mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís – decided to attend Saturday’s march, despite resounding criticism from the LGBTQI community over the party’s dealings with the far-right Vox, which is seeking to roll back gay rights.
The group was stopped by around 20 protesters, who sat down in front of the Ciudadanos members to stop them from walking ahead, and for several hours yelled chants including: “This is what happens if you deal with fascists,” in reference to the fact the party is governing Madrid City Hall and the southern Andalusia region in coalition with the conservative Popular Party, thanks to the support of Vox.
“In the video, protesters jeer at the Ciudadanos members who have decided to take part in Pride 2019.”
“In the video, dozens of protesters stop members of Ciudadanos from moving forward.”
In the end, the Ciudadanos group had to be escorted from the event by police.
“They threw bottles, ice, glasses, everything at us… They are intolerant people who look a lot like the fascists that we have wanted to expel from Pride,” said Arrimadas after the incident.
But according to police sources familiar with the report, “there is no proof” that Ciudadanos members suffered any “physical aggression.” The report insists that the group were insulted and had water sprayed at them from toy pistols. It also argues that only an “isolated,” “non-dangerous” object, an empty water bottle, was thrown at the Ciudadanos members, “which did not hit anybody or cause any injuries.”
Ciudadanos parliamentary spokesperson Inés Arrimadas
The report also insists that the group did not follow any “police instructions or advice” and were accompanied by “plain-clothes” officers.
Police sources say the report was made on Monday after Ciudadanos leaders criticized the police officers providing security for the large-scale event. Villacís, who attended the march but left before the protest against the group, accused the police of “taking too long to arrive” and acting “inefficiently, when anything could have happened.”
“My colleagues were scared by the situation of being surrounded by hundreds of people,” the deputy mayor of Madrid told state television network TVE on Monday. She maintained that her colleagues could have suffered worse aggression because there were “just a few officers” from the local police force to protect the group.
But the police report openly contradicts this version of events. According to police sources, the report indicates that the head of security for Ciudadanos asked the police on the morning of the march to provide protection for the party members who wanted to attend Saturday’s event. The document outlines that Ciudadanos told police that 200 members were planning on joining the march at the starting point at the Atocha roundabout and leaving it when they reached the Plaza de Neptuno traffic circle.
According to the police report, “there is no proof” that Ciudadanos members suffered any “physical aggression”
Police authorities say that an inspector was sent to meet the Ciudadanos leaders and accompany them along with “several police officers” as the party marched to respond quickly to any development. When the inspector saw that a group of 10 protesters was walking slowly in front of the Ciudadanos team to stop them from moving forward, he suggested that the party bypass them by taking a side street. But the Ciudadanos group refused and ignored police advice on another two occasions, according to police sources.
When the protesters sat down to stop the Ciudadanos members from moving forward, the police decided against clearing the way, given that this could “lead to more civilian clashes, which is what was trying to be avoided,” according to the report.
Around 20 plainclothes officers were sent to the march to act “if necessary” and riot police were also nearby in case an evacuation was necessary, the document states.
The report says that police were ordered to establish a security cordon to protect the Ciudadanos group at 10pm and around half an hour later the members had decided to leave the march. “Minimal police intervention” was required, according to the report, seeing as only some protesters continued to yell insults at the Ciudadanos group, but at a distance and “without direct aggression or even physical contact.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.