Clashes at mass binge leave 54 held, 70 hurt

20th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 March 2006, MADRID — Clashes between large groups of young people taking part in open-air drinking sessions and police early Saturday in the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Salamanca left some 70 people injured, including several police officers, and dozens arrested.According to authorities, 68 people were slightly wounded in Barcelona and 54 were detained following clashes between police and approximately 200 young people in the Rambla del Raval section of the city and its surrounding area.The 68 wound

20 March 2006

MADRID — Clashes between large groups of young people taking part in open-air drinking sessions and police early Saturday in the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Salamanca left some 70 people injured, including several police officers, and dozens arrested.

According to authorities, 68 people were slightly wounded in Barcelona and 54 were detained following clashes between police and approximately 200 young people in the Rambla del Raval section of the city and its surrounding area.

The 68 wounded in Barcelona included 31 teenagers taking part in the "macro-botellon" or large open-air drinking session, 36 police and one firefighter.

In the western city of Salamanca, 16 young people were arrested after they set fire to 10 garbage containers in an area near several popular clubs and clashed with firefighters, police and health-care workers.

A spokesman for the Barcelona city government told EFE that the incidents broke out at about 3am local time Saturday, when the largest group of drinkers - about 500 - had assembled in the streets, about 200 of whom became involved in confrontations with police.

Meanwhile, a government official in Salamanca, Jesus Malaga, said a clash between about a hundred of the "roughest and most out-of-control" youths and police occurred after 3am when the revelers attacked firefighters trying to extinguish a blaze in a rubbish container.

He said about 2,500 people were in the streets of central Salamanca at the time of the disturbances, noting that a minority was responsible for the violence.

The Salamanca government released a statement saying the damage caused to some 24 rubbish bins and 100 wastepaper baskets totaled some EUR 23,000, adding the city would file "a criminal complaint against all the detainees," including a minor "who hit a local police officer in the head with a concrete block".

In Madrid, the "macro-botellon" was dampened due to rain and a stepped-up police presence, although hundreds of young people converged on a student area of the city to take part in the fest.

According to authorities, police officers took away bags with alcoholic beverages from young people who arrived to take part in the binge in areas such as the Faro de Moncloa (Moncloa Tower), in northwestern Madrid.

In the southern city of Granada, some 20,000 people took part in the drinking session, about 50 of whom needed treatment for alcohol poisoning, although there were no reports of injuries or violence.

Earlier this week, young people across Spain launched an e-mail and cell phone campaign intended to put as many of them as possible in the streets of a score of cities on Friday night to drink alcohol openly in plazas and on sidewalks to underscore what they insist is their right to do so.

The "call to arms," initially a challenge to restrictive laws at the local and regional levels, was extended nationwide after a recent effort that managed to bring together in the southern city of Seville some 5,000 youths making a statement with public tippling.

The "botellon" - as the phenomenon of open-air drinking is known - has been widespread in Spain for several years now. Official studies indicate that on an average weekend, around 500,000 people aged 14 to 30 indulge in the practice, which appears to be equally popular with both sexes and all social classes.

Drinking in parks and plazas, which occurs even on the coldest winter nights, originated as a response to the exorbitant price of drinks in most bars and nightspots.

Residents of cities where the practice is found often complain about the noise and trash that tends to accompany the drinking parties, and authorities in eight of Spain's 17 regions have taken steps to ban the botellon.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news


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