End of August 2020. The deputy of Vox Rocío de Meer refers to the Barcelona neighborhood of Raval as a “multicultural dunghill” in a session of the Permanent Delegation of Congress. A few days later, the parliamentarian visits the neighborhood together with the Catalan leader of the far-right party, Ignacio Garriga. A group of about fifty neighbors protested against them in an escrache. Now the Vox politicians are asking for six years in prison against seven of them.
When Vox defined as “multicultural dunghills” the neighborhoods that it now visits in campaign
In their accusation brief, to which this newspaper has had access, Garriga and De Meer accuse seven neighbors, whom they describe as “ultra-left”, of the crimes of coercion, threats, damages, as well as a hate crime when they understand that the protest was guided by “purely ideological motivations and discrimination against the members of Vox.”
Although it does not ask for prison sentences, the Prosecutor’s Office also understands that the accused acted based on “contempt” for Vox. For this reason, the Public Ministry asks that the accused pay a fine of 7,200 euros for a crime of coercion in competition with a slight one of mistreatment of work with the aggravating factor of ideological discrimination and that they compensate with 700 euros for “moral damages” to the deputies and five other Vox members.
“Vox is campaigning against multicultural neighborhoods and stands three days later in the Raval. In this case the right to demonstrate is at stake to reject political parties that promote discrimination,” reflects Laia Serra, who defends several defendants. The lawyer also warns of Vox’s attempt to “turn around” the regulations and try to apply a hate crime against anti-racist activists and racialized people and protect its politicians “who do not belong to any minority group.”
Vox’s visit to the Raval was part of the party’s strategy of visiting the working-class neighborhoods with the highest percentage of migrant population after qualifying them as “multicultural dunghills.” Neighbors considered the visit a provocation, so they called for a concentration against the presence of De Meer and Garriga in the neighborhood.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the defendants “followed” the Vox deputies down Hospital Street and, amid shouts of “fascists out of our neighborhoods,” they lit firecrackers and threw canisters of smoke, eggs, cans and bleach at the deputies. Later, the prosecutor continues, “they managed to corner” De Meer and Garriga in a hotel, where they “took refuge.” The members of Vox left the hotel escorted after the defendants “kicked their access door,” adds the Public Ministry.
The Vox deputies add in their letter that they came “to fear for their physical integrity, they were afraid and had the feeling that the accused could comply with the threats they made.” Vox even wanted the political party to be considered a victim, but the judge specified that the deputies at the private level should be the ones to appear in the case.
The neighbors, in a statement read Monday in front of Botero’s emblematic cat, have charged against the prosecution’s accusation. “It is the world upside down, those who fight the extreme right are persecuted and hate speech is rewarded,” they have indicated.