Skip to main content

Anti-austerity protest turns violent in Spanish capital

By Al Goodman, CNN
updated 10:07 AM EDT, Sun March 23, 2014
Demonstrators confront police in Madrid as an anti-austerity protest ends in clashes.
Demonstrators confront police in Madrid as an anti-austerity protest ends in clashes.
  • 101 people injured in Saturday night violence
  • Police arrest 24 demonstrators, including three minors
  • "March for Dignity" was the first major anti-austerity protest in Madrid in months
  • Violence erupted after the official close of the demonstration

Madrid (CNN) -- Cleanup was under way Sunday on damage to bus stops and outdoor cafes in central Madrid, after austerity protests turned violent Saturday night in the Spanish capital and left 101 people injured. There were 24 arrests.

The injured included 67 national and municipal police officers and 34 demonstrators. Eleven were taken to hospitals, including a national police officer who was kicked in the head, lost his riot helmet and lost consciousness, spokesmen for the central and Madrid city governments said.

The 24 demonstrators, including three minors, who were arrested face potential charges of assaulting police officers, vandalism, and setting trash bins on fire. Arraignments could begin later Sunday. City street crews and other workers were carrying out the cleanup as authorities evaluated the damage.

Improvement for Spain's jobless?
Spain showing baby steps for recovery?
Spain's brain drain problem

As has become a pattern at many Spanish protests, the violence came only at the very end of what had been hours of peaceful, noisy and energetic protests.

The so-called "March for Dignity" was the first major anti-austerity demonstration in Madrid in several months, aimed at telling the government that there is still widespread suffering in Spain despite official pronouncements that the beleaguered economy is recovering.

Read more: Madrid, city of protests

Spain's unemployment rate is 26%, with nearly 5.9 million people out of work. Hundreds of protesters in six columns from around Spain have been marching for weeks on the capital to draw attention to the situation.

On Saturday, they reached Madrid and were joined by tens of thousands of protesters, who converged along the capital's main boulevard from the Atocha train station to Colon Plaza, where a stage was erected for speakers.

It was near the stage, at the end of the march, that the violence erupted after the official close of the demonstration at 8 p.m. local time, even as many protesters were already leaving the area to find transportation home.

There have been hundreds of protests in Madrid -- by teachers, doctors and other specific groups -- against the government's austerity measures, aimed at reducing the budget deficit. But the march on Saturday tried to include all of these groups under a broad "March for Dignity" banner.

Read more: Thousands protest 'anti-protest' law
Read more: The faces of Spain's economic crisis

Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.