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An ugly angry mob gathers on the streets of Arguineguín based on hearsay spread across social networks

An ugly angry mob gathers on the streets of Arguineguín based on hearsay spread across social networks

This article is based on the subject of an ongoing police investigation, and does not try to draw conclusions about the reasons behind the initial incident which led to an angry mob in the streets of Arguineguín.  Our analysis has been based on careful study of the available evidence, and in particular video footage that appears to show the original events to have been somewhat different from the claims made that have led to anger, on the basis of unfounded accusations without clear proof; it is hearsay until it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and we need calm level headed conclusions, not mob rule.  As a publication we cherish the right to protest and have full faith in the judicial process and the work of the Guardia Civil to establish the facts.  If you find any inaccuracies in our work, please inform us directly and we will try to verify what errors have been made.  We leave You, our readers, to draw your own conclusions.

 

Edward Timon – Editor in Chief

angry mobAn angry mob of about 80 people gathered in the usually tranquil streets of Arguineguín on Saturday morning to shout about an incident alleged to have occurred last Wednesday, demanding justice for a local boy, who says he was beaten by a group of foreigners, and ending with an attempt to barge their way into the new Arguineguín Park apartment complex where a number of migrants have been temporarily accommodated.  Thankfully there were no injuries or violence reported.  What is more, crucial new evidence has emerged that casts serious doubt on the story as it was initially told on social networks and in some local press outlets.

Angry mob gathers in Arguineguín

According to initial available information, a group of vengeful locals decided to take matters into their own hands, on Saturday morning in the sleepy fishing-cum-tourist town of Arguineguín, forming an angry mob, apparently in response to a brawl that resulted in a local man seeking treatment in hospital for injuries, he claims, were inflicted by a large group of young migrants.  Fortunately the angry mob on Saturday morning were not able to gain access to the apartment complex, where several migrants have been temporarily accommodated, due to security guards closing the gates and the intervention of local police and Guardia Civil who dispersed the crowd quite quickly once they could go no further.

Angry mob forms in Arguineguín

Residents of Arguineguín were surprised at around 11:00 on Saturday morning to see a crowd gather and march noisily through part of Arguineguín, where tensions have been running high, following three months of their local port having been used as a reception camp for incoming and rescued migrants. Witnesses from the neighbourhood around the complex say the large angry mob were loudly insulting migrants as they headed through the town towards the urban tourist complex in a supposed attempt to reprimand and threaten the people being accommodated there.  Local Police officers apparently could not do anything to prevent the group from reaching the complex, where they were unable to enter, despite shouting threats from outside.

angry mob

Angry mob heads for temporary migrant accommodation

During the march through the town, several migrants walking around the area allegedly had to flee, due to threats from individuals in the group of locals. The apartment complex, owned by a local hotel group, has so far declined to make statements following what happened.  It is the first spontaneous occurrence of its kind, and follows weeks of local peaceful protests expressing displeasure at the arrivals to the area over recent months, in what has been the second highest number of irregular migrants on record to have arrived by sea in one year.

The Guardia Civil are investigating the original event, thought to have sparked anger among locals using social networks to spread various versions of events, where the accounts differ greatly between those involved. Indira Díaz, 21, a social educator who had been guiding a group of minors on a day trip to the south on Wednesday, with her colleague Rachid of Moroccan descent, say the local man, Kevin León, 27, was verbally abusing the group down near a beach, and when Rachid asked him to stop they ended up in a physical struggle to the ground, but that no others were involved.  León, a native of Arguineguín, says he was attacked by a large group of migrants who he had tried to stop from verbally abusing some passing tourist girls.  Both sides have filed charges and required medical attention, unfortunately ending up at the same medical centre for treatment,  where a further altercation occurred.  There has been evidence suggesting that this second altercation was more premeditated than the first incident.

Editor’s comment:

So, we have moved to lynch mobs and perhaps burning torches next!  We need pause for thought, because this is already running far beyond what is acceptable.  Sit down, calm down and think.  Have a biscuit. There are a lot of people shouting, but very few taking time to look at the evidence.  Some fervently tell us that just one more incident and there will be bloodshed, without even knowing both sides of the story.

Some believe that the migration crisis has adversely affected tourism.  But of course tourism is not really the issue.

Lots of people have very vocally complained over recent weeks about the presence of migrants in their communities, and have now held the incident on Wednesday up as an example of why they are so “rightly” afraid of these strangers without papers.  On social networks lots of rumours are spread accusing migrants of everything from theft to violence and even rape.  Yet no evidence is ever presented for any of this.  All of these stories come second or third hand, a trusted friend of a friend, but never presenting any real proof of the facts as they see them.  They expect action against these rumours without evidence, convinced that they know what is “really going on”, and that they have been failed by society in general and now have been forced to become the protectors, regardless of societal norms.

However this is the first time, to our knowledge, that a local man has come forward, both to the police and through social networks, and specifically claimed to have been attacked and robbed by a group of migrants.  A travesty, particularly when the alleged victim, a mild mannered local boy, was so gallantly stepping in, apparently, to protect the honour of two passing tourists who he says were being jeered or molested by the alleged culprits.  His story continues alleging that these foreigner-hoodlums then follow our noble hero to the hospital to go and finish him off, chanting kill him, kill him!

We have video of a short struggle between two or three young men in a hospital toilet, that stops as soon as a woman announces she is filming the incident.

How strangely ordinary the other side of the story seems in comparison.

A 21 year old social educator, who lives and works, we think, in Las Palmas, takes a group of 12 teenagers on a daytrip to the south.  With her is another social educator, a young man, himself of Moroccan descent.  We assume that the 12 teenagers were Maghrebi minors, but that has not been made clear, nor is it relevant. The educators say the local chap, wearing long shorts, began to verbally abuse the group, and that the male educator goes to talk to the man to ask him to stop, which results in a physical altercation between the two, with no one else involved.

We have video of of the male educator, Rachid, talking quietly to the alleged victim, while the female educator keeps the teenagers in her charge away from the conversation, and then of the man being physically blocked from the group, by her colleague Rachid, before being wrestled to the ground with a bear hug, one boy watching closely demands to know if the man is “finished?”.  The other boys then appear to pick up coins and items that have fallen from pockets to the ground to give back to the man, who is exhausted and no longer wants to fight.  Rachid then stands between the man and the group, protectively, and seems to encourage the boys to look for any dropped items in the bushes.

Simply put, this looks, to the untrained eye, like an uncalled-for scuffle between two grown men.  There is an ongoing investigation as to how and why it started.  It is for the Guardia Civil to decide what actually happened.  We do not really know more.  We certainly do not have any cause to blame migrants in general.  All we can say with any certainty is it appears that whatever caused the brawl leads to both the Arguineguín man, with a friend, going to the same medical centre where it appears they catch hold of someone, we assume Rachid, and beat them into a toilet.

In the video at the health centre it is clear, from his clothes, that León is not being attacked, it is he who, with the help of a friend, attacks and kicks another victim, dropping one of his shoes as he does.

León looks round to woman videoing him and friend attacking one other

One thing is sure. Certain far right parties, have been sharing images of and falsehoods about the educators involved, leading to direct threats of violence against them on social media. That surely cannot be encouraged or accepted.  Those people who think that violence and intimidation from an angry mob are the way to solve problems in our community are the real problem we face today.  We are better than that.  Gran Canaria is better than that. Mogán is better than that. Arguineguín is better than that.

Either we will actively safeguard a community where we can live with the rule of law as our guide, where we agree on a system of judging people based on real evidence, presented to the police and through the courts, with the presumption of innocence; or we are happy to believe that brutal vigilantes should take matters into their own hands, with an angry mob intimidatingly roaming the streets, on the basis of childish fears and unsubstantiated hearsay.  People tell us that we are already at breaking point, where the law is no longer being upheld, and so there will be more trouble to come, but that simply is not what we are seeing when we look at the evidence, we are seeing angry, powerless people looking for others to blame for their fear and frustration, and then choosing a very easy target, migrants trying to escape poverty or worse.

Surely we all must try to seek peaceful solutions for our concerns, whatever they are, and we must not become reactionaries who exasperate already difficult situations.  I pray that is  the just society we really want, not some dystopian nightmare where truth is irrelevant and fear drives brutality as a form of control.  There is already enough of that.  What sort of people are we? What sort of leaders do we have who try to whip up hatred, instead of calming people to reason?  Our public servants are there to protect us.  They work for us.

What happened on Wednesday should never have happened.  The response to it on Saturday morning even less so.  The spread of exaggerated fears with little or no care for facts is going to get someone killed, or worse still, lead to blood on the streets and the destruction of all that we hold most dear.  Let’s not do that. Please.

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