Three protests; three very different reasons. Yesterday some 60 members of the United States community in Majorca gathered under the storm clouds in La Llonja to take part in one of over 800 protests organised across the world in support of the new movement March For Our Lives. This was set up by the survivors of the latest school shooting in the US in which 17 students were gunned down by an 18-year-old former member of the Florida college.
Organiser Jeff Harter and spokesperson Jennifer Wasmer were joined by fellow Americans of all ages, in particular children whose protection and securing a safe future the March For Our Lives is all about. Outside the US Consulate a number of statements and declarations were read during a short rally before the demonstrators marched back to the Cathedral.
Jeff said that he hopes that this is just the beginning and that more will be done in the short term to support the movement and the brave schools kids in Florida who have decided to stand up to the US government and speak out over gun regulations.
"We, as Americans, have all been affected by gun violence. We want it to stop at home and we don’t want it to spread to Europe." "Enough is enough," they shouted.
Meanwhile, dozens of people gathered in the centre of Palma to protest against the seizure of a vessel belonging to the Spanish non-governmental organisation Proactiva Open Arms. POA was recently on a promotional tour of the Balearics informing the public about the work they are doing saving refugees from drowning off the coast of Libya. Last week, one of its fleet was seized by the Italian authorities, with which the NGO cooperates and works.
Investigations are being conducted into crew members' alleged criminal association with illegal immigration.
Prosecutors in Catania seized the ship. It is currently in Pozzallo after it disembarked 218 migrants last Saturday, having refused to hand them over to the Libyan authorities following two days of diplomatic negotiations. Three people have been placed under investigation: the captain, the on-board coordinator and the Spanish head of the NGO for alleged criminal association for illegal immigration purposes. The issue appears to be about whose waters the fleeing refugees were rescued in - Libyan or Italian. Libya claims it was their operation, not Italian.
The largest protest, one involving around a thousand people, braved some heavy rain in the late afternoon to demand the acquittal of Majorcan rapper Josep Miquel Arenas (Valtonyc). He is shortly due to enter prison, having been sentenced to three and a half years for, among other things, insulting the crown and glorifying terrorism.
A theme of the protest was "freedom of expression". Among those who took part were Palma councillors Aligi Molina and Neus Truyol and the government's culture minister Fanny Tur. She explained that she had joined the protest in defence of freedom of expression. "No one should go to jail for a song or two," she said, linking the case of Valtonyc to the imprisonment of politicians in Catalonia. People who have done nothing wrong are incarcerated, she insisted, while others "condemned for corruption" have enjoyed pardons.
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