Ok, since these demonstrations are quite an important topic, I decided to write it in English. As I expected, the demonstrations in Lisbon ended with violence and chaos on the streets, to which the police responded with even greater violence which even the journalists and photographers could feel on their own skin! Everything started with a peaceful protest march from Cais do Sodre to Rossio and then to the Assembleia da Republica, where the masses joined together for the demonstrations. From what I saw, the events started to go bad after the official demonstrations were over and some dockworkers started tearing down the fence in front of the Parliment. The people went crazy and now the police were the frontline of the Parliment. And soon the same scenario happend as in Slovenia two years ago – somebody threw a rock from the sidewalk and then it went sideways! Because there was no obvious plan and goal of the protest and the CGTP syndicate already left the place, crowded with angry people, you knew that it can just end in one way … You could see young & old protesters throwing rocks to the parliment and also women were participating. At first, there were a lot of protesters in the front and most of the rocks and bottles fell on them (and even I was hit by a flying bottle in the head), which was really stupid and a threat to others. Some people tried to stop the rock throwing by peacefully sitting in front of the police, but that didn’t help and they soon fled because of the debris. And so the throwing and demolition continued for a hour or two and you could sense that the police is gonna respond back – and they sure did, precisely at the moment when I tried to change my lenses. The police started running towards the crowd and I had to run with my lenses and the camera in the hand, and most of us photographers raised both arms not to get beaten. Others were not so lucky though. The special police squad went in with the dogs and randomly started hitting protesters (also the calm ones), old people by the side of the street and women also, it did not matter, because they seemed pretty pissed off and they delivered their anger on the people.
After the crowds fled, most of the people went into the small streets in the near of the Parliment and started to set dumpsters on fire, so pretty soon all the roads closeby were covered in smoke and there was fire everywhere. The thing is also that the firemen are also on strike, so they did not put out the fires until last minute or they didnt at all – you could see people with buckets on the street trying to put the fires out. That is when things became chaotic. I was lucky to have an old PRESS card with me back from Slovenia, so I could pass the police barricades, but some weren’t – a friend of mine had to format the whole card on the camera, because she was not press and she took pictures of the police baricades. And sometimes they did not let anyone through, so we were always trying to get around the barricades to get to the main avenue.
After that I went to Cais do Sodre where most of the people fled, and it was totally crowded with the police and you could see people getting arrested on every corner. I stopped to make a photo, and checked the picture and in that moment I was struck in the back several times with a stick by the special police force cop, which was not interested in the fact that I was a photographer covering the riots. The best thing was just to go away as quickly as possible, because things really became serious and you could see the police running around with shotguns in their hands. Then when I got to the station in Cais do Sodre I started to take pictures of a big arrest on the street, where they had around 20 young people sitting on the sidewalk and there were a few young girls just crying out loud, which was also not a nice thing to see.
Me and a few other photographers came close and started to make pictures, but the police officers were really shouting and threatening us to move on the other side of the street and it was sometimes impossible to come close to make a shot. And because of those beatings the police seemed scared of the presence of the cameras and that also explains their anger against the media covering the event. After that, things seemed to get quiet, because they have closed most of the streets in the center and people realized that it was not that easy to move around anymore, because you could get arrested at anytime. I still dont know what or where is still happening, but I can hear the sirens from my home. I really hope things will calm down during the night, because I think that today there was enough violence for everyone and it only leads to the destruction of the city and private property which has nothing to do with the government!
P.S here is a link to a video, that more clearly describes how the raid took place, but the beating is not seen.
Sorry for a few mistakes, I wrote this text in a hurry. More photos still to follow!