Woman investigated for hate crime over banner reading ‘police go home’
"It was peaceful way to respond to police violence" on day of referendum, says Olga Ricomà
A woman from Tarragona, in Southern Catalonia, is being investigated for the supposed crime of hate speech having hung a banner from her balcony reading “Police go home” directed at Spanish law enforcement. She then published an image of it on social media. Before the court on Wednesday morning, Olga Ricomà defended herself stating that she is not “a person of hate.”
Ricomà hung the banner in response to the police violence that occurred on October 1, when millions of Catalans defied the Spanish government and took to the streets to vote in the independence referendum. The police operation to prevent them casting their ballot left around 1,000 injured.
“I was very sad about the events of October 1, and outraged at what was happening, and this was a peaceful way to respond to the police violence,” Ricomà said. With regard to the accusation she said it is unfair, and “does not make any sense.”
Spanish police filed a report on Ricomà, resulting in her having to appear before the courts to testify. She only answered questions from her lawyer, Ramon Maria Sans, who presented a letter asking for the case to be dismissed.
The right to criticize
“The text on the banner, and the comments made on Twitter, are not hateful to anybody in the slightest,” the lawyer stated outside the court.
He also highlighted that it is a case of freedom of expression, and the right to criticize, which itself is defended by Spain’s constitutional court.
“We believe that moving forward with this case would be a perversion of the penal code,” he added.
More than a hundred people accompanied Ricomà to the court, among them was her father who is the spokesperson for the municipal group of pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana in the Tarragona council.