BARCELONA, May 27, 2011 (AFP) - Spanish police fired rubber bullets and swung truncheons to disperse anti-crisis protesters in a Barcelona square Friday after city cleaning crews cleared their tent camp.
Catalan police in helmets moved in after about 50 protesters sat down on the street to block municipal cleaning trucks leaving Plaza de Cataluna square after having dismantled the encampment.
Police were shown on national television dragging protesters on the ground and swiping at activists with truncheons. An AFP reporter at the scene saw rubber bullets fired.
The protest blockade broke up within minutes and cleaning crews carried on the work under police surveillance. Hundreds of demonstrators looked on, sitting on the ground in the square.
The demonstrators are part of a nationwide movement that began May 15. They describe themselves as "the indignant", and are known variously as "M-15", "Spanish Revolution" and "Real Democracy Now".
Mostly young, they have gathered in city squares across Spain in peaceful protests to decry mainstream political parties, soaring unemployment, corruption and welfare cuts.