Thousands of police officers have taken to the streets of the Spanish capital, Madrid, to protest against proposed reforms to the country’s controversial security law, saying the changes will limit their ability to perform their job.
The protesters waved Spanish flags and chanted slogans as they marched through the capital on Saturday, after Spain’s leftist government announced plans to reform the Citizen Security Law, dubbed as the "Gag Law", which was passed in 2015 at the height of the country’s anti-austerity protests.
The rally was called by the Jusapol police union, and politicians from Spain's three main conservative parties joined police officers in the protest, who argue such reforms would remove protection from police and security forces, endanger public security and reduce operational ability to stop violent demonstrations.
"We say no to this reform. We believe the law must be adapted to current times and must be reformed, but we must never trample the rights of those responsible for security who work with this law every day," said Miguel Ángel Gómez, president of Jusapol.
Opposition leader Pablo Casado, who heads the right-wing Popular Party, said he fully supported the protesters' demands, urging Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez "to listen to the street and to the thousands of police who have risked their lives to defend Spanish democracy and freedom."
Vanessa Gonzalez, Civil Guard officer told Reuters, "They should either leave the current law as it is or make it better for the police and for the citizens."
"There is strong opposition against (the reform) of this law. It is against our police and we will not let it happen," said Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros, of the far-right Spanish Vox party.
Under the current law, the unauthorized use of images of police officers that could endanger their safety is a serious offence, with offenders risking heavy fines.
The reforms propose changes to the fines, which would be proportional to how much offenders earn. They also no longer classify the unauthorized use of police images as a serious offence.
Under the changes, police will also have to use less harmful materials at protests after a number of people were seriously injured by rubber bullets fired by officers.
According to organizers, some 150,000 people took part in the demonstration in Madrid but the government put the figure at 20,000.
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