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19 d’abr. 2019

By David Fernandez: "In uniform by day, uncontrolled by night" (Jan 2019)

This post is an English translation (by M.S.) of the article by David Fernandez "De dia uniformats, de nit incontrolats". I hope the author doesn't mind (and that it hasn't already been translated!)
Click here if need be to access the whole text.

Original text:

In uniform by day, uncontrolled by night

18 JAN 2019
Original source: https://m.ara.cat/opinio/david-fernandez-dia-uniformats-nit-incontrolats_0_2163983742.html

The title is a classic expression born during the stormy Transition, between the savage deeds of the Frente de la Juventud, the dead who never count or extremists' raids on libraries. At that time the saying, a popular truth, was a crying secret and a bombing reality: it simply denounced the evidently direct connection between police violence, extremist plots and the State sewers. This as the triad of the tension strategy and the culture of fear of the Francoist bunker trying to scare people, prevent change and lengthen the exception.

For saying the same sentence, the mayor of Verges, Ignasi Sabater, was reported last April, in fraud of law and twisting the Criminal Code, for an alleged "hate crime" against the police. He said it after strangers made the umpteenth assault, puncturing the wheels of 163 cars and after the municipality had become the obsession for the extreme right ing, with numerous, repeated nocturnal attacks. After continuous assaults, this week, finally, the first arrest took place: that of the mayor who reported it. Everything in order: keep moving. In Verges there are hooded attackers at night and hooded police officers who act at daybreak, without a court order and for events which Ignasi did not even witness. Jokes of democracy when democracy is a joke, the High Court of Catalonia reports that there was no court order and [Minister] Marlaska claims there was. One of the two is lying - and it is not the former.

So as not to lose the thread, this is not only (though it also is) an article of solidarity with Ignasi - and the other detainees, of course. It is also an article of democratic and informative self-defence against the rising censorship risk of not being able to calling things by their name and before what ends up being a crime is reality and history. An overdose of memory against the junkies of the power of oblivion and impunity, down to brass tacks: there are uniformed people by day who by night get out of control, there are. The last year and a half has been prolific. And this is just a taste of what they get up to. In the darkest night, close to Verges, in October 2017, five un-uniformed Civil Guards were arrested in Espolla, tearing down Catalan flags and stealing independence flags from private balconies: they were in a van without any markings of the military corps. In uniform by day, uncontrolled by night? Well, yes.

A week earlier, the Alcarràs local police identified a Civil Guard patrol car stopped at the side of the road. When they approached them, the other they rushed away. On the road there were fresh graffiti: the colors of the Spanish flag and "Puigdemont never again". Multilingual day to paint and at night doing it? Highly likely. More: August 2018 night in Terres de l'Ebre. Covered faces, frontal torches, cutting tools and planned maps to tear down ribbons. The Mossos d'Esquadra intercepted fourteen people. One of them in a civil guard dual-role: By day a public servant and at night an extremist squad member? Well it looks like some of them are, too. They can add as a cherry that the main investigator of the general cause against 1 October, the Civil Guard Lt. Col. Daniel Baena - head of the judicial police in Catalonia -, spent his time, tacitly and on Twitter, insulting the people he was investigating: an analogic officer by day, a digital troll by night. And the Prosecutor-General's Office is silent. And the eternal unresolved doubt: what if they are not as uncontrollable as they seem and all this ministerial tolerance and official silence do not fit?

There are also some completely uncontrolled ones: Inspector Villarejo catching even the BBVA [bank]. And there are also some runaways, that the free bar of "A por ellos" impunity is long and gives plenty of leeway. On the night of October 23, 2017: seven CNP police officers are reported for wrecking a bar and attacking a waiter in El Born - "We are the bloody law here! [...] Barcelona is Spain" - do you remember? December 2017 in La Barceloneta: an off-duty civil guard tearing down an independence flag, arrested by the Catalan police and reported for having attacked a citizen. Sometimes, even, you do not have to take off your uniform to lose control. You can be earing it: "I'd stick it inside him as if it tomorrow would never come. If one of them didn't have his rib broken, it was petty close." No, it's not a 'hooligan' on October 12. It's a Spanish policeman, in an internal communication, on the first day of October 2017. There is a macabre host of delightful examples recorded on 1-Oct, a repertoire of words proferred by uniformed people not just verbally out of control: "Don't speak to veming"," I'm going to break your glasses, they cost money", "Get out of there, fattie", "By the Sanfermines you'll be saying it's rape". #endofquote

In the Basque Country, they know more than enough, painfully, about all of this. From the GAL squads of police officers and extremist mercenaries to the gunshots fifteen days ago against the window panes of the home of a family of abertzale leftists: the detainee is a former National Policeman and he's been let free. (Brutal parenthesis on state terrorism. In the anthology of horror this remains, unpunished: the BVE (Basque-Spanish Battalion) made an attack in Hendaye in 1980 where three people died; they jumped across the border, they gave themselves up to the police and they were released after a phone call to chief inspector Manuel Ballesteros, who was never to reveal their names. Ballesteros was convicted but a court - called the Supreme court - acquitted him twice, because he was "in the erroneous belief" that protecting them prevailed over informing the courts. Let me close this idiocy.)

While we're on the subject, there have even been tricorne drug dealers. Major José Ramón Pindado, the head of the Civil Guard's anti-drug fight, was condemned - in the scandalous Ucifa case - for drug trafficking in 1997. In May 1999, the ministy of Defence - how shamfeul! - granted him a life pension. An exception? Surely not the only one. Lt. Col. Rafael Masa, who was condemned for torture and instigator, according to the executor, of the murder of Santi Brouard, was condemned in 2004 to 11 years for drug trafficking. More: number two in the Intxaurrondo museum of horrors, Lt. Col. Máximo Blanco, was condemned in 2003 for bringing 4,200 kilos of hashish into the port of Sant Carles de la Ràpita; In 2005, [Minister] José Bono signed his promotion - what chaos! - to colonel. By day, anti-narcotic uniforms, and at night, lugging acondemned around bales of drugs. And don't forget, let's not forget that the last leaderhip of the CNP [Spanish police] in Catalonia - from Chief inspector Luis Gómez to inspectors in the foreign department - was convicted for corruption and bribery: they warned - fo a fee - the Saratoga and Riviera brothels when there were about to be raids. During the day, a sheriff of order, and at night a pimp net? Well, yes.

Even in the nineties post-Olympic Barcelona left a plethora of examples of police impunity. It's essential to recall, in particular, the arrest of a prominent ultra-right group for the placing an explosive device in the Cotxeres de Sants. The statement from the Provincial Information Brigade - yes, exactly, the same one that has made the arrests this week - synoptically rebuilt: "It's a group of friends who wanted to give the squatters' movement a fright." At the trial, held years later, the defendants claimed that they did it "in defence of Spain". The judge, in the sentence, pointed out that that could be an attenuating, yes, but only before, long before: under the dictatorship. The Information Brigade did not seem to think the same.

Eventually, because things can always get worse, the regressive evolution may be involved. Are we going backards? Probably the saying is no longer that exact, because it no longer needs to be night-time to attack, frighten or threaten. The Information Brigade officer that beat up photojournalist Jordi Borràs did so in full daylight, in the centre of Barcelona and to the cry of "Viva Franco". He did not need a hood or darkness. After attacking him, he brought out his badge: and in that simple gesture lies the short distance between aggression and impunity. He remains active, protected and shielded, without any precautionary measures. How are you doing, Teresa Cunillera?

Beginning and ending, to recall that old, just saying - so relevant in the light of the facts and the aforementioned antecedents - Ignasi Sabater has been indicted. And the only democratic alternative that comes to mind is to fully subscribe to it as many times as necessary. I ratify it, in a state of deontological and anti-repressive need, today, here and no. In writing, on press paper and under the shelter of the newspaper archive: in uniform and uncontroled. From the inalienable right - and so many threatened freedoms - to say that what happens really does happen; against the usual lie of the powers-that-be that want us to swallow that what happens does not happen. And remembering that this would not happen if many, so many, did not keep quiet so shamefully. Now, if for writing this we have to end up in the dock, well, tough luck, and there we'll turn up. Better that than having to lie; or, still worse, having to shut up; or even more lethally, to end up being an accomplice of all this inquisition. Because at the end of the day, paraphrasing Fuster, they only charge us, in dictator-cracy or democracy, to see if that makes us shut up. And not even then, officer Smith or whatever. You won't make us shut up even that way.

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