I am no stranger to protests. Last summer I visited the Tent City that sprung up on Israel’s Rothschild boulevard. This past September I worked a few blocks from the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park. My friends held signs in Times Square.
I don’t know what was going on in Barcelona (I think it had something to do with taxes), and I didn’t try too hard to find out. Maybe that’s bad, but whatever. I was there to eat ham and see Gaudi, not fight the system. But there were protests Every. Day.
Morning, noon or night. It would start with a cluster of police vehicles. Then a street would be closed. Then assorted loudspeaker mumbles and sign waving. Sometimes there was a siren. Then everyone would go home. All in all, the protesters and police seemed to have a mutual understanding; You let us wave our signs and do some chanting, and we will march down the street in an orderly fashion and leave. From what I understand, these peaceful protests were part of a larger series of protests this past year, some of which were more violent.
But for the time I was there, eating crepes and watching the gaily-jacketed group march past, I experienced the kind of pleasure reminiscent of Disney Land parades.
March on, Protesters. March on.
About the flags; They are the colors of the Catalan flag and they are everywhere. Barcelona, though part of Spain, is part of what is considered an “autonomous community” of Catalonia, with it’s own distinct culture, heritage and language. Catalans have a strong national identity, and they aren’t afraid to show it.