The 'super brawl' of Alcalá de Henares: in search of the ghost machete

A mixture of fragmentary information through messages and short videos on social networks, rumors and the confusion of a night of major festival raised a tumultuous brawl in the early hours of Saturday to Sunday at the fair in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid). An altercation that the police device had managed reasonably well, separating the violent from the rest of the public after deciding to close at around 3:45, one hour and 15 minutes earlier than expected. Two days later, the alarmist mentions of machetes and shootings, and even deaths, which spread like wildfire during the night and on Sunday morning, have not materialized. There were no stab wounds and no knife or sharp instrument was seized, the mayor, Javier Rodríguez Palacios (PSOE), insisted on Monday morning, in line with what police sources say.

There were, yes, five minor injuries, all police officers, in the clashes with barricades that were set up outside, taking advantage of the fences with which traffic was cut off and the garbage cans of some of the violent expelled. Firefighters put out a fire in a container.

The weapons found were "crystals and stones", point out the same police sources, who admit a situation "of great tension" for approximately an hour in which the agents did not know if the vandals were going to increase their number or withdraw. One person ended up being arrested, but the presence of young people from youth gangs was confirmed by the mayor, who referred to the "tiny minority" of the 10,000 participants in the fair, "some with criminal records, young people with complicated pasts" who gave place to "a horrible morning". "Some come to commit crimes and others join," they point out in the police.

Last year there were already problems in the last days of the fair, then in the Plaza de Cervantes of the university city, when the police decided that the bottle had to be finished. There were more wounded -eight police officers- and more detainees -four. So this year almost 200 officers participated in the device (97 from the local police, 100 from the national police) who carried out random checks at the exit of the train station in the afternoon. Municipal agents accounted for approximately one third of the total workforce.

They were not enough, according to the local PP spokeswoman, Judith Piquet, who in July had demanded more protection, and on Sunday mid-afternoon lamented the "so serious situation of insecurity" that in her opinion affects the municipality.

The next day, Piquet protested, always on Twitter, about the high price of electricity. There were replicas in the regional PP, including that of Ayuso's Minister of Justice, Enrique López, who criticized the mayor for not convening the local security board with the Government Delegation. "The plan has been written and closed for weeks," replied Rodríguez Palacios, who said that if it was not published it was to avoid giving clues to potential criminals. The City Council anticipates more arrests, since cameras were installed on the premises this year.

Palacios said that in 30 years living in the city he has experienced fairs "with stabbings and deaths" and that, on this occasion, "the great achievement is that, having a fight, greater evils have been avoided." The deputy mayor, Miguel Ángel Lezcano (Citizens), went further, relying on his professional experience "for almost 30 years" as Civil Guard: "It is one of the best police actions I have seen, and I have had to experience many scenarios throughout throughout my career." Lezcano made the opposition ugly: "You generate a feeling of insecurity that is not true."

"We knew that fake news was being spread, but we couldn't stop it until we had the final police report, which we had at around 11.30am. [del domingo]. No shootings, no deaths, or anything like that," the mayor stressed.

On Monday morning, the fairgrounds were clean and the booths were already being taken down. A worker from the one in Andalusia, very close to the origin of the fight, says that the police immediately separated the violent ones and took them outside the premises. "But there was a machete and they fired rubber bullets," she warns, although she admits that she did not see it in person, but rather in a video that a colleague, today untraceable, showed her on the phone.

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