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Protesters attack journalist at demonstration against yellow ribbons

Participants attacked TeleMadrid cameraman thinking it to be the Catalan public broadcaster in a tense gathering

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29 August 2018 08:44 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Three individuals at a protest in support of the removal of yellow ribbons attacked a cameraman for Spanish public broadcaster TeleMadrid, mistakenly identifying the channel as Catalan TV3. The incident occurred just minutes before the protest began at 7pm on August 29, when individuals began punching and kicking the journalist.

TeleMadrid presenter Javi Gómez took to social media to confirm the events, explaining the cameraman was punched “four times” because some thought that there was a “yellow ribbon on the camera.” Gómez ended the tweet by reflecting that, “paradoxically, it was a demonstration to protest against an attack.”

A tense protest

The protest has reportedly been tense with various incidents breaking out. Some 600 people, according to the Barcelona City Council, gathered at the central Barcelona Ciutadella Park in a demonstration in support of an individual allegedly attacked in an incident involving the removal of yellow ribbons.

Asking participants the question “Are you tired of yellow ribbons too?” the protest was called by the platform España Ciudadana, close to the hardline unionist Ciutadans (Cs) party, whose leaders were also present. Ciutadans, in fact, sustains that participation was at close to 1,000.

An incident that became political

According to the Catalan La Vanguardia newspaper, both people involved told the Catalan police that it all started when the woman's children stripped yellow bows from the railings surrounding Barcelona's Ciutadella Park while playing.

A male passerby told the children off, arguing that they were "making the city dirty" by leaving the torn up ribbons on the ground, but did not make any political comment. The woman then complained to the man for telling off her children and a fight broke out.

At this point, their accounts diverge, with two different versions over who started the conflict. It is additionally unclear whether the man broke her nose, and whether the woman fought back.

The Catalan public broadcaster, TV3, later spoke to the man and the woman's husband –who was also there– but both parties denied that the event had anything to do with politics.

A dispute yellow in color

The incident—and the subsequent demonstration— is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding yellow symbols in Catalonia, hung up to show support for pro-independence Catalan leaders who are either in prison or exiled abroad.

The issue of whether these yellow installations, usually in the form of plastic ribbons, should be displayed in public spaces has, however, become a point of contention for political voices, and a major subject of discussion for Cs.

Indeed, on August 28, the party went on to report the man in the above-mentioned dispute for the alleged attack, in order for the prosecutor "to investigate whether there has been a hate crime," said party leader, Inés Arrimadas.

Activists for both sides

Activists in support with the jailed and exiled leaders have been displaying yellow signs in public spaces in the past few months, while some unionist activists have been removing them recently, with parties promoting it such as Ciutadans. 

Recently, the leaders of Cs stepped into the ring themselves, personally removing yellow ribbons from public spaces in the Catalan town of Alella. Citizens have since put up the yellow markers once more. 

As a response, former president Carles Puigdemont has weighed in on the controversy over the yellow symbols supporting jailed and exiled political leaders. On his Twitter account on Wednesday, Puigdemont made a call “not to escalate the conflict over the yellow ribbons” and warned about “falling for provocations that only fuel radical attitudes.” 

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  • The protest against yellow ribbons in front of the park on August 29 2018 (by Bernat Vilaró)

  • The protest against yellow ribbons in front of the park on August 29 2018 (by Bernat Vilaró)