Police clear protestors from Madrid square

AFP , Monday 14 May 2012

At Madrid's Puerta del Sol square, Spanish police disperse protesters trying to mark the anniversary of the "indignant" movement, arrest two

Riot police officers cordon off the Puerta del Sol plaza after protesters were evicted following a demonstration during the early hours of Monday, (Photo: AP).

Police cleared scores of "indignant" protestors from a Madrid square Monday, arresting two, after a weekend of mass rallies marking one year since the birth of the popular movement.

Following a rally by tens of thousands that packed the Puerta del Sol square on Saturday, a small crowd of "indignados" returned overnight Sunday to Monday, defying an official ban on protests after 10:00 pm.

Riot police dispersed about 100 people from Sol early on Monday morning, making two arrests and checking the identity documents of 81, a police spokesman said, adding that the operation passed off "without incident".

After leaving the square, the demonstrators gathered outside the nearby headquarters of Bankia, a major bank that has been nationalised in the financial crisis.

They yelled slogans against the bank, which is one of various mortgage lenders criticised by protestors for evicting insolvent homeowners.

"This bank lies, cheats and throws people out of their homes," read a sign waved by the protestors.

Spain's conservative government, in power since December, officially allowed them to rally on Sol for five hours Saturday and 10 hours each of the following three days, to prevent a full-time encampment like last year's.

Police said they arrested 18 people on Sunday morning after some protestors continued Saturday's rally through the night. Nine of these had been released by Monday while nine went before a judge, police added.

The four-day protest is due to end on May 15, the anniversary of the birth of the movement, which occupied the Puerta del Sol with a tent city for weeks last year in anger at economic hardship and corruption.

A year on, Spaniards have even more to protest: a recession, unemployment at 24.4 percent overall and 52 percent among the under-25s, and more than 30 billion euros ($39 billion) worth of austerity cuts so far this year.

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