GANG VIOLENCE IN SPAIN CALLS FOR MORE VIGILANCE IN URBAN POLICIES
by Sven Engel (Efus News, January 2007)
Violent clashes between rival youth gangs in a Madrid suburb have underlined the explosive danger of youth gang violence mixed with racism. In January 2007, more than 10 young people were injured when Spanish and Latin American gangs first conflicted and later attacked riot police dispatched to calm the ethnic violence.
The expression of violence comes at a time of increasing difficulties for many marginalised neighbourhoods in Spain and across Europe, and triggers negative memories of racist clashes in the Southern Spanish region of El Ejido in the late 1990 or inter-ethnic violence that has broken out on similar grounds in British cities in the last few years.
The European Forum for Urban Security views these developments with great concern, because they show a trend of culturalisation of social conflicts that are more worrying than youth violence in general because they pitch one group of people against another one, based on supposedly ethnic or cultural divisions. It also comes at a time when the EU Agency on Fundamental Rights warns against continuing discrimination and segregation in the areas of housing, education and jobs (see EUMS Annual Report 2006, http://www.eumc.europa.eu/).
The fact that local authorities remain largely silent and hesitant in their response to increasing conflicts along supposedly cultural or ethnic lines is inadequate considering their responsibility for social cohesion and solidarity among all inhabitants of urban areas.
Efus recalls that youth violence mixed with racism is a very serious threat to the urban security of everyone, and would like to draw attention to improved participation and training for local authorities with a view to better integrate youth of all social and cultural backgrounds into urban life.
Efus’ latest reports in this area on improving local authorities’ relations with immigrants and on the phenomenon of youth gangs in France can be ordered from the secretariat.
Related Information: download the presentation of the publication Jovenes ‘Latinos’ en Barcelona, Espacio publico y cultura urbana, by Carles Feixa of the University of Barcelona.