People gathered close to the PP party headquarters to protest against the new security law and to support 11 activists that have been jailed. The cause of the arrests were unclear and the law will reduce public freedom.
After breaking the police cordon protesters marched to the courthouse in Plaza Castilla to call for the release of 19 detainees.
Spain’s conservative government agreed on Friday to toughen penalties for unauthorized street protests up to a possible 600,000 euro ($816,000) fine, a crackdown that belies the peaceful record of the anti-austerity protests of recent years.
Leftists and civil rights activists have labeled the bill the “Kick in the teeth law” because it penalizes a battery of protest measures in what they say is a disregard for democracy in a country that only emerged from right-wing dictatorship in the late 1970s.
But Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose People’s Party (PP)has an absolute majority in parliament, has said the Citizens’ Security Law guarantees freedom and will have the support of a majority of Spaniards.
Street protests and strikes have became increasingly frequent in recent years following huge cuts to education and health spending aimed at shrinking Spain’s public deficit to adhere to European Union demands.
But in contrast to Greece and elsewhere, where many similar protests have turned violent, Spain’s have remained largely peaceful, despite unemployment of 26 percent, rising poverty, and changes in labor laws that make firing easier.
The government also plans a new law restricting labor protests.
“The government knows that citizens are going to continue to protest on our streets and what they want is to instill fear and paralysis,” said Socialist lawmaker Antonio Hernando.
“This law … attempts to criminalize the act of protest,” said United Left lawmaker Gaspar Llamazares, questioning whether it complied with Spain’s constitution. “The government is trying to turn its political opponents into delinquents.”