Madrid – Some 150 people, mostly youths, who camped out in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square to demand jobs, housing and "real democracy," were removed Tuesday by Spanish police.
Security forces asked those camping in the emblematic square to clear the area, and five minutes later surrounded them and began forcing them out of the area, Juan Cobo, spokesman for the Acampada del Sol movement, told Efe.
Cobo said that many campers, waving banners with slogans like "They call it democracy and it's not," then staged a sit-in to protest being removed. The police in response "dragged them away and struck them," though no one was seriously injured.
Some campers told Efe that the young people who were arrested when police started removing them were freed soon afterwards.
Camping out in the square began as a follow-up to demonstrations that the Real Democracy Now movement called last Sunday, in which several thousand people took part in a number of Spanish cities to demand political and social change.
In Madrid, 19 people were detained for disorderly conduct and damage to public property.
The Acampada de Sol movement planned to remain in the Puerta del Sol until next Sunday, the day Spain holds municipal and regional elections.
Spain is struggling to recover from the double blow of the global recession and the bursting of a decade-long property bubble, and the unemployment rate is more than 21 percent.