Riot in Barcelona

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There was a nationwide strike in Spain to protest labor reforms that weaken the rights of the employees (easier dismissal, prolonged trial period, etc). I think the riot in Barcelona was the most violent.

To avoid trouble, I got permission to work remotely, but after having connection issues, I gave up and walked to work. Paseo de Gracia, the central street in Barcelona, was blocked, so there were just pedestrians. I actually quite enjoyed the walk- I wasn’t stopped by traffic lights after each block, and I didn’t have to tailgate tourists who just casually stroll down the street.

Helicopters above my head, the smell of something burning mixed with the smell of marijuana, the police and the national guard, and photojournalists taking pictures of everything made the walk eerie as well. It was also funny when I saw an old gypsy lady begging two Spanish men for money. One looked at her, and in Spanish said, “Today you’re not supposed to work. Today we’re all on strike!”

Even though all the stores were closed, I could see, in addition to the swarming protesters, the beggars, joggers, dog-walkers, and backpackers all on their way. Gypsy Lady begging for money:

In front of my office building:

When I got to work, there was a security guard at the door who unlocked the door for me. At the office, there were only the new guy and the intern in my team. My boss was on strike as well. The new guy was really stressed out because he didn’t know what he was doing, and all the deadlines for the projects were piling up. I kept on getting distracted by flames that I saw outside the window, as well as the chants, honking, helicopters, sirens, and even music. The protesters blasted “Welcome to Jamrock” by Damian Marley at one point.

From the office (Gran Via + Paseo de Gracia):

Leaving the office to get back home was another story. There were lots of burning things (garbage bins and paper, mostly) in La Rambla, and as I stood to take a picture of a distant object in flames, fifty people started running towards me. I don’t think anyone knew why anyone was running, but I ran as well not to get run over. What an adrenaline rush. A man holding a big camcorder has footage of me running for my life. I wish I had time to see what broadcasting company he worked for.

There were a few stampedes that followed. There were also firecracker-like explosives that set off really loud sounds, but I was kind of used to them because of Las Fallas in Valencia. I met up with my friend and colleague to walk home together, and she said that she was crying because of tear gas, and that she saw police cars at full speed, running over everything, and were dragging garbage bins that were stuck on the vehicles.

Something burning in La Rambla:

The Barcelona Stock Exchange building (Borsa de Barcelona in Catalan):

Deutsche Bank, vandalized:

Death to Capitalism:

When we almost arrived, we thought we had witnessed a man about to jump off a building- he was only practicing capoeira on the rooftop. Glad we got home safe!