“Good grief, tonight is call after call, all the squares are full of people drinking, they should take out the army.” The one who says these words is one of the operators of 092 of the Municipal Police of Madrid, during the early hours of last Saturday to Sunday. Answer at 3:20 a.m. to a neighbor who asks the agents to dissolve the bottle of the dozens of people who have settled under her window to continue the party, with music through loudspeakers and a merrymaking so great that it has awakened those who live around .
The night party does not end at one in the ‘Madrid de la libertad’: route through the bottles and the noise of the de-escalation
The picture described is not an exception this summer, during which there are numerous incidents related to parties in the streets and nights of neighborhood insomnia, especially in the heart of the capital. Many residents consulted by Somos Malasaña describe the situation as “the worst” experienced in this neighborhood in a long time and assure that the level of noise has risen several points compared to what was usual in an area with an abundance of nightlife. The calls to the Police for noisy bottles begin on Monday and occur throughout every day of the week, until reaching the weekend, when the Municipal switchboard collapses.
Although it is difficult to establish a single source for these problems, the lack of sufficient personnel to control the excesses is one of the most evident. This is confessed by the agents deployed in the streets every night, when they speak with the neighbors, and the data confirms it, which shows a decrease of 21% in the number of fines imposed this summer in Madrid for alcohol consumption in the street with respect to the same period of 2020.
During the months of June and July of this year (the data for August have not yet been published), the number of open penalties for drinking alcohol on the street is 2,368 in the Centro district, compared to 2,999 registered by the Local Police in the same months of last year, the first after confinement by the pandemic.
As the Center is the area that concentrates the most fines of this type in the 21 districts of Madrid -one in four-, the trend in the decrease in fines in the capital compared to the summer of 2020 is the same, although the decrease is less (14%), since in other places police interventions have not decreased so much.
The following graph shows the evolution of fines for alcohol consumption on public roads during 2021 (red line) compared to 2020 (orange dotted line). The figures for March, April and May of last year are exceptionally low due to the strict confinement to which the people of Madrid were forced by the incidence of COVID-19:
The figures show that there are fewer fines for making bottles, but to realize the lack of police officers it is best to go down to the street to check its effects and how those who try to alleviate the inconvenience of bottles with little means act on the ground. , in a game of chases in which they almost always lose.
To the mouse and the cat through the streets of Malasaña
Conde Duque Park, midnight on Friday, August 27. A Municipal Police patrol approaches this green area, where a hundred young people make a bottle in its lower part, sitting on the benches next to the football field. Two officers have previously turned on the emergency lights of their car to alert them of their presence and are heading to the meeting point.
At that time, more than fifty people – all very young, around 18 years old – get up with their drinks and leave the park at the opposite end of the Police. They do it calmly, observing the movements of the agents, keeping a distance of 50 meters with them, to run if necessary. The policemen pass through the midst of those who have remained seated, who do not have alcoholic beverages in sight, and direct their steps towards those who have left, who are already on their way to Alberto Aguilera to avoid them completely, make a detour through the block and go back to the park until another patrol passes.
The scene is repeated in two other places where there are police cars tonight in Malasaña. The young people do not approach the agents, but they make a bottle in the surroundings or wander from square to square to find a place free from the stares of the agents: “Has anyone brought loudspeakers?”, Asks a girl to her group, to the I pass by Quiñones street, on the way to Comendadoras. “Put La Zowi on,” asks for another. In the background, they see the blue lights of the municipal security body and they stop, thinking of looking for another destination, but while they are discussing where to go, the police car shoots out of some warning and leaves them free. “In the end, we just had to wait a bit,” says another young man from the gang happily.
Groups of dozens of young people with litronas and cartons of wine in hand pass by the abundant terrace tables still open – they will close at one o’clock – where the same alcohol is also consumed, but with legal hoax and at a higher price than the one they have paid them. The night game of cat and mouse between the police and the people who want to continue the party has only just begun and will go on from 3.00 in the morning, when all the nightlife closes due to the anticoronarivus measures decreed by the Community from Madrid. That is when the call outlined at the beginning of this article took place and focused on the Plaza del Rastrillo, one of the points where the police pass little by and part of those who try to make a bottle in Dos de Mayo come, with greater vigilance .
“Before it was the weekends, now it is permanent”
Despite the almost continuous presence of a Municipal Police car next to them, tonight the monument to Daoíz and Velarde wears a litrona in the place of their swords and a bag on their head, as a sign of the general lack of control that occurs during dawns. Irene lives there, who recounts the “torture” she has suffered since the sun goes down: “I never tire of calling the police night after night, between 3:00 and 6:00 in the morning, from Monday to Monday since they removed the Curfew, it doesn’t matter what day. Before it was weekends, now it’s permanent. ”
The situation, with ups and downs, has been repeating every week from the night of May 8 to 9. That Saturday, at twelve, the curfew ended and thousands of people came out to celebrate it with a massive bottle in the squares of the capital. In Malasaña the crowd was so abundant that, at first, the National Police tried to dissolve the concentrations with charges and pursuits in their vans. Later, the few agents deployed endured whistles and insults every time they passed through some squares in the neighborhood such as El Rastrillo. Glasses and bottles even rained down on their vehicles when they passed them.
The situation has been maintained throughout the weekends in different areas of Madrid, while the neighbors saturate the telephone lines of the Municipal Police, in charge of controlling noise and the bottle, and the party takes to the streets at the closing of the premises of leisure. First at one, then at three. “We are sorry, in Centro and Chamberí we cannot cope,” say the operators on the other side of the line. “We have never slept so badly,” say the citizens contacted by Somos Malasaña.
Irene, the Dos de Mayo neighbor who spoke earlier, believes that the City Council is not doing everything possible to stop these nightly riots: “In what world do we live in which they ask the teacher for papers in broad daylight? Antonio López for making art and they don’t ask someone who breaks a container or sells alcohol illegally for a role? Whoever this depends on is giving wide sleeves and this is becoming more and more like Mad Max, “he complains.
Other neighbors report similar situations, which include shouting after hours, damage to street furniture and cars, and even people who hide their alcoholic beverages in their containers to – they suppose – keep them safe from possible police control. Or they abandon them because later, when they pass the controls, they can easily buy them from the lateros who walk down the street or in the many food stores that dispense alcohol throughout the night, despite the fact that they are prohibited from doing so from 10 pm.
“They pass through here two or three times every night,” says Víctor, a neighbor of Quiñones Street, who recorded the video inserted a little higher. The images are from Sunday morning to this same Monday, after three in the morning. It was the first time I had recorded something like this after months of suffering from it. “These were quite quiet, because other times they throw containers, hit things … the music with the speakers is always carried, yes”.
Víctor relates that they also insult the neighbors who go out to the windows to ask for silence. He prefers not to do so and has never called 092 to report. Like many others in the neighborhood, he sighs, closes the window and puts plugs in his ears to try to get back to sleep.