All-day anti-government protests called by a coalition of Spanish groups demanding attention to the country's horrific unemployment situation devolved into violent riots Tuesday, after groups of tactical police charged into an agitated crowd.
Spanish media reported dozens of arrests and scores of serious injuries, not a surprising result given the images of bloody confrontation being broadcast out of Madrid.
At around 9 p.m. local time, some 30 minutes before the protest permit demonstrators had been granted to rally in the vicinity of the national Congress was set to expire, violent skirmishes broke out between police and protesters. Firing rubber bullets into the crowd and charging with tactical batons, the large contingent 1,300 riot, or antidisturbios officers seemed at times to be as much attempting to push back the rally as to trying to avoid being overwhelmed by the protesters, who numbered in the thousands. It was a bloody exclamation point on a tense, all-day rally -- denominated as the #25S demonstrations to "surround the Congress and rescue democracy" -- that saw plenty of arrests earlier in the day.
About an hour after the initial charges, police had cleared out most of the area immediatly near the national palace, but were still engaged in shoving matches on the outskirsts of Madrid's Plaza Neptuno, where most congregated. Under the watchful eye of the mythical Greek god of the sea and being observed by thousands around the world via live webcast, protesters chanted "The people united, will never be defeated," "You call it democracy, but it's not" and "Being a police, I'd be ashamed of that."
Holding up banners and placards, close to 10 p.m. local time, the protesters began chanting "These are our weapons. These are our weapons."
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