Clown taken to court over photo with Spanish police officer
Months after the picture went viral, he says police officers are "going after" him, and is accused of disobedience from referendum day
“When I saw the Spanish Guardia Civil police there, I knew they were coming for me.” So said a local councillor for a central Catalan village, denouncing that the Guardia Civil force, a Spanish police body, is coming after him. The reason? Jordi Pesarrodona took a photo, wearing a red clown nose, alongside an officer. The photo was on September 20, when the local councillor, who also works as a clown and an actor, spent three hours protesting Spain's police raids happening in the Catalan government building. The photo quickly went viral.
On October 1, less than two weeks later, police officers arrived in his village to prevent the independence referendum from being held. Four months have gone by and, on February 7, Pesarrodona was summoned to court, accused of disobedience during referendum day.
The local councillor's village is very small. Called Sant Joan de Vilatorrada, it clocks in at only 10,000 inhabitants. As for why law enforcement went there on October 1, Pesarrodona believes that it was due to the viral photo he took. Leaving the courtroom, he stated that the officers went to Sant Joan de Vilatorrada as a "reprisal" for the picture.
"The officers didn't understand a peaceful protest"
Jordi Pesarrodona · Local councillor and clown
Pesarrodona is accused of disobedience, which he classifies as "good news." In fact, the magistrate could have also included the Guardia Civil report. According to the Spanish police, the local councillor would also be guilty of hate and resistance crimes. For his part, Pesarrodona filed a joint complaint, alongside some fifty other citizens, against the police crackdown on October 1, as he said they aimed to "hurt" people. "The officers didn't understand a peaceful protest," he stated.
From clowns in the United States chanting (and throwing) "white flour" at White Power protests, to the CIRCA Clown Army in the UK, clowning has often been used as a form of non-violent protest to diffuse a potentially violent situation. This tactic was even employed at the Bosnian border, when a group of clowns protested the conflict in the region. Pesarrodona would know - he was there. The councillor used this time as an example, noting that, then, the police officers were aware that “it was a peaceful protest.”
As for now, Pesarrodona addressed his accusers that he is no different from the entertainment they so loved as children: “I am the very same clown you once laughed with," he noted. A group of people was gathered in front of the courthouse when the local councillor arrived, wearing red clown noses to show their support. Applauding, they carried a banner reading ‘Freedom and democracy.’ Before testifying before the judge, Pesarrodona asked the demonstrators to “be strong” and to “smile.” “(Red) noses, crowns, the Republic and flowers,” he said, as he entered the legal building.
During the proceedings, he decided not to testify. What he's accused of, "the crime of disobedience, doesn't have a legal basis,” he argued.
Mechanic also summoned for refusing to repair a police car
Pesarrodona's story is not unique. A mechanic from Reus, in southern Catalonia, for example, was also summoned to testify in court. This all began when the mechanic, Jordi Perelló, refused to repair a police car on the basis of “principle,” following police actions on referendum day.
Now, Perelló is under investigation for alleged incitement to hatred. Around a hundred people gathered in front of the court to show their support, while, inside, he has testified for less than thirty minutes. Before him, the judge heard two witnesses, as well as the police officer that filed the complaint against the mechanic.