Thousands of protestors, both young and old, took to the streets and central plazas of some thirty Spanish cities today to protest for the right to protest. It is a right that should be respected in any self-respecting democracy.
But not in Spain, thanks to new legislation which is on the verge of becoming law. Under the Orwellian-titled Law for Citizen Security, or more aptly named ‘Gag Law,’ virtually all forms of political protest, including all non-violent forms, will soon be criminalized. But not with penal charges – most criminal cases brought against non-violent political demonstrators are promptly thrown out of court – but administrative ones. That way, the government can circumvent the traditional checks and balances of the criminal justice system while pocketing millions in administrative fines.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the financial sanctions the government seeks to impose (and, of course, collect upon) for acts of political protest or disobedience:
Surrounding a government building: 30,000 ‘ Criticizing or insulting the country, government or head of state during a protest or on social media: 30,000 ‘ Participating in a demonstration that does not have the government’s prior approval: 100 – 1,000 ‘ Organizing a demonstration that turns violent: 30,000
This post was published at Wolf Street on December 20, 2014.