Video footage proves Spanish police used batons and shields in Sant Cebrià on referendum day

Spanish police officers: "hostility was the basic rule during the two hours" of their action in the town

Four of the five Spanish police officers who acted to prevent voting during the independence referendum on October 1, 2017 in the small town of Sant Cebrià de Vallalta testified on Wednesday in the trial against Catalan pro-independence leaders. The officers stated that they did not know if defensive items (batons and shields) were used against voters, and that the policement were the target of all kinds of attacks. Only one of them acknowledged that he used his baton in self-defense and at a very specific time. The video footage to which ARA has access, thanks to neighbors who were present on the day, refutes the account of these police officers, who even stated that they did not see any voters being thrown to the ground.

The police version differs greatly from what can be seen in the videos provided. They show how those gathered exercised peaceful resistance despite the baton blows they received from the Spanish police officers from the very first moment. In these videos, for example, one can see how one of the officers hits a young man who was merely protesting their actions several times with a baton when the police units were located just in front of the ramp of the El Pi Gros school, the only authorized polling place in town.

Throughout the footage we can see how the people gathered there chanted "We are peaceful people, we just want to vote!" with their hands raised in the air, highlighting their peaceful attitude. The police brutality is revealed in another video in which a second unit of the Spanish police is seen charging hard to break through the groups of voters. These images bring into question the officers’ testimonies, one of whom said on Wednesday that "hostility was the basic rule during the two hours" of their presence in town. A hostility that, curiously, did not result in anybody being arrested or even identified.

The head of the Spanish police operation in Sant Cebrià de Vallalta during the referendum justified the officers not carrying cameras to record the police action citing reasons of "availability" of material; he also said that he did not remember people crying and that if they did "maybe it was due to their consternation about the situation" and not because of the blows received. The police officers also stated that there were about two thousand people gathered outside the school when the actual figure did not exceed five hundred, with the aim —one can assume— of exaggerating the opposition which the police encountered.