Yellow ribbon controversy picks up momentum
Group removes symbols supporting jailed and exiled political leaders from towns in Girona region
In the early hours of Wednesday, a group of around 80 people began removing yellow ribbons put up to show support for jailed and exiled political leaders in different towns in the Girona region. The group met at 11pm in Cabrera de Mar, in Maresme county north of Barcelona, with the aim of “cleaning up the towns with a high proportion of yellow plastic.”
Dressed from head to toe in white protective clothing and with their faces masked, the group first traveled by car to the town of Bisbal d'Empordà in the Baix Empordà county, where they removed yellow ribbons tied to railings next to the Daró River. The group then moved on to La Pera and removed yellow symbols from the road leading into the town.
Equipped with cutters and ladders, the group removed the symbols while reporters filmed them and they made their own recordings. Some passing motorists shouted out “tomorrow we’ll put them back up,” while police later arrived to oversee the protest. The intention of the group was to move on to the seaside towns of Platja d'Aro and Sant Feliu de Guíxols.
Catalan police takes note of incident
The Catalan police took official note of the incident, and are looking into whether the law was broken, as they had not been notified that the protest was going to take place. Police also took down the details of the person in charge of the action.
Meanwhile, the mayor of La Bisbal d'Empordà, Lluís Sais, flatly condemned the actions of the masked group: "When someone has nothing to hide, and has no shame, they do not cover their faces,” he said.
Rise in tension over yellow symbols
The tension between groups putting up yellow symbols and those removing them has risen recently, especially after an incident at the weekend in which a woman was allegedly attacked in Barcelona after an argument over the symbols, says the unionist Ciutadans party (Cs), which has filed a suit over the incident that it claims is proof of a “social fracture.”
According to what the woman told police, while she admits being involved in an argument with a man after her child had torn yellow symbols off railings, the man attacked her after finding out that she is Russian. In her version of events, the man called her a “shitty foreigner” and punched her in the face. What the man told police has not yet been revealed, but shortly after the incident both sides told the press that the fight did not begin for political motives.
The alleged attacker was arrested by the Spanish police on Wednesday morning after the woman had reported it.
Some hours later a judge allowed him to go free without charges but with a restraining order towards the woman whose children removed yellow ribbons in Ciutadella Park.
Cs: It was an attack “exacerbated by ideology”
The head of Cs in Spain, Albert Rivera, in an interview on Wednesday, called the attack “a genuine beating exacerbated by ideology.” Blaming the attack on the actions of the independence movement and its leaders, Rivera said “there is no place in democracy” for such hateful incidents.
Meanwhile, the leader of Cs in Catalonia, Inés Arrimades, on Sunday announced a protest planned for Wednesday in Barcelona to show “support for the victim and rejecting such incidents.” However, the mayor of the Catalan capital, Ada Colau, advised Cs to show “caution before drawing partisan conclusions that merely create confusion and conflict.