Today I witnessed two completely distinct and separated worlds within just metres from each other.
The loud and very violent football supporters celebrating the victory of Barcelona in Champions League: explosions, fire, jumping around, singing and drinking on the Ramblas.
Then, just some metres away, Plaza Catalunya: surrounded by a wall of people standing quietly with signs saying: NO TO VIOLENCE.
Passing them calmly, anyone was allowed to enter. And when inside, one discovered tranquility, peace and a completely relaxed and harmless atmosphere, where people were simply sitting on the ground talking. The difference between these two places, the sensation they were giving and the people that were participating – was completely overwhelming.
I moved from fear and the adrenaline caused by firecrackers and people running away in panic – straight into an oasis of calmness – in a matter of minutes.
However, around 3 o’clock in the morning the sirens of the Special Forces started to sound and the situation got a lot more tense. We were informed that the football supporters were being dispersed from the Ramblas and that they were moving fast, followed by the police, towards the square.
The people were urged to strengthen the “human wall” and everybody chanted “NO TO VIOLENCE! NO TO VIOLENCE!”. Nobody was allowed to pass and I happened to find myself on the outside part of the “wall” as I had been shooting pictures which felt both uneasy and threatening. There was this wall of people, standing with their signs, there was me, and then there were huge amounts of panicking supporters aggressively trying to push their way through.. and behind them – violent police shooting rubber bullets.
The police tried various times to enter from the different sides of the square, but all of them had been closed in the same way by the people. I got through eventually, and the feeling of how powerful and peaceful the protection had been was just amazing.
The police left at 4.30am, applause sounded in the square and people were hugging.
I’m completely touched by how beautiful this movement is. Barcelona won today – twice. All my love goes to Plaza Catalunya!
Click the pictures for flickr.
Goodnight and see you tomorrow!