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Three police bullets, two versions and... a culprit?

Two months ago, the Barakaldo Municipal Police shot three young people who slept in a tunnel. Time has confirmed our suspicions: the official version has quickly placed the victim at fault.

After a police action that ends with the hospitalization of two citizens, the (unilateral) police version is built with the support of the political leaders of the moment: They applauded police action and stressed the guilt of the other side.

No matter what happened. The argument is: "I have done things as well as the lack of resources has allowed me, and the other party has done so badly as social recognition has allowed it." Always the same, enough!

In this case, the main police union has taken little time to support the version of its members (it has not even made the least effort to know the other version, nor has it shown concern about the damage caused). In addition to the traditional "lack of resources" excuse, this time he was added to the "lack of training" excuse. Okay, let's think about it.

They talk of lack of resources, but at the very time of the events were five agents (there were three people in the tunnel) each with their radios, that is, with the ability to quickly connect with any other police agent and apparatus. In the face of the weaponry, each had on top some kind of tips, gowns, pistol and gas, including safety vests, gloves and boots. There are no resource problems, though they can dream of being tasers or bazoks.

They also talk about lack of training. In any case, that is their responsibility. The possession of knowledge to perform a job is the responsibility of each worker and of the company or entity in which they work. This lack of training responds to a spontaneous abandonment and is irresponsible.

Two months ago, the Barakaldo Municipal Police shot three young people who slept in a tunnel. Time confirms our suspicions: the official version quickly places the victim as the only culprit in the situation.

But in addition to these two factors, we must add another: the lack of capacity. It is clear that those who have taken advantage of this situation do not have the capacity to manage it properly. The excuse of not feeling safe is not worth if the result of your actions is a shooting at a citizen bringing into play the lives of other people. And less when we talk about the individual who presents himself as the guardian of the "legitimate use" of violence.

The media have not fallen short either. The only version they have originally given is that provided by the police. It has not been checked. The unknown "who was going to do something" is constantly being shown and the victim of the shooting becomes guilty of an alleged crime and his fortune. On the international day against racism, while some rich men talk about the racism they suffer, the facts gathered in Barakaldo have been published without contrasting information and have promoted an opinion that has a marked taste of structural racism towards the poorest people.

The problem arising from this fact has to do with the Eurocentric and Classicist view of migration. From a white perspective, we do not understand the situation because we are not protagonists of that reality. We know nothing about migration and poverty, because we are not poor migrants; as we do not know racially, we do not suffer. Meanwhile, racist, migrant and Roma people are suffering the consequences of these racist practices that oppose our lives. For administrations, the problem of migration is not based on the problems that people have had to migrate, but on the problems that these people generate in the migrating areas. This is clearly seen in the current actions of our local authorities. If we place the focus on "malaise", the actions will be pursued. If the focus were placed on the difficulties suffered by the migrated and racist people, in the conditions that have generated the need to come here and in the conditions that, once here, precarize our lives, the actions would be solidarity, attention and support.

The current view implies "invitation to leave here". We do not want to resolve their situation, we want it not to affect us. Thus, we establish two lines in parallel: on the one hand, to reduce aid and resources, to pursue personalized aid, not to update budgets, not to adapt to new situations... Moreover, it is “compensated” by the alleged specific training given to police officers, as well as by the authorisation and protection of the persecuted and violent responses of these devices, as well as by their immediate justification.

With regard to social and care services (most of them white people), we limit and hinder access to and progress in these services: we do not provide the necessary technical and human resources, we extend priority, urgent and initial interventions (all three), we put administrative obstacles in all phases… We denounce the growing demand, rather than fight to expand supply. As far as control services are concerned, pressure is increasing with the aim of expelling people from places where they are used for their mere survival.

Thus, we assume that it is normal and good that when a person sleeps in the street and has to live the solution is not to attend to their basic and human need, nor to provide shelter and resources to access food. On the contrary, to expel from the municipality, only a renewed version of the classic "not poor here".

When we take this dynamic for granted, we are validating that the methods are becoming increasingly intrusive and violent.

Above all, the social services and institutions that work in social intervention join this spiral violence and serve the people who come to us with the scarce resources we have (no). At best, we complained, "it's not fair, but there's no more." In the worst case scenario, we came to believe that he has what he deserves, "because he hasn't done things right."

We must question not only our professional work, but also the meaning of our activity. We have become mere service managers and have given up building equitable and responsible social models based on equality.

A brief unquestionable and representative picture of all this: faced with one of the most serious events we could imagine, against a person who is part of a collective at greater risk of falling into a situation of vulnerability, and carried out by the local administration, the professionalized organizations have not raised their voices, and what is more serious, have not been concerned with knowing the situation of the victim and how what happened. At best, they have abandoned the issue, at worst, the argument of those who have decided to throw the most vulnerable people out of their refuge (without contrasting anything).

The reflection we can make on all this is very broad and profound, and the criticism behind it would lead us to sincerely question our activity and our objective.

Two months have passed since the Barakaldo Municipal Police shot three young people, two of them injured, leaving one of them in a very serious situation. If we talk about the situation in this tunnel, that is the only obvious and indisputable fact. However, all agents (politicians, police and media) blame the hospitalized young person. At the moment there is no obvious evidence to prove it. Now, the agent who threw the young man is presented as a private indictment.

At the moment what we have on the table is: Three municipal police shots, two wounded youth, one of them fighting between life and death. Objective facts that should be investigated taking into account more than the statements of those who threw the shots.

Two versions. A version of the police, political agents and the media which, on the one hand, blames the wounded youth without any evidence; and, on the other, a version of a young migrant, a young man who has not wanted to listen and who has violated his fundamental rights.

And one issue we have to question ... A single culprit?

Fátima Letradu, member of SOS Racism de Bizkaia.

Kaiene Inzunza, social educator of Bizkaia.

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