New video and audio from Spanish Police and Civil Guard cameras during last year's 1st October Catalan referendum show the reactions of the officers before, during and after the actions at polling stations. With strength and shouting they managed to get through the crowds and then later, once in their cars, commented on the operation, with some every admitting they might have injured members of the public. "From behind I was swinging my baton as if there were no tomorrow. And they were pushing, and they were pushing. If no one has left with a broken rib, it was close," one officer says.
In the videos recorded by their own body cams, which Catalan news agency ACN has obtained, the police can be seen and heard preparing to act, opening paths through the crowds to get into buildings and searching for ballot boxes and voting slips.
One of the videos was recorded in Barcelona's Guinardó neighbourhood. In the recording, the police can be seen getting out of their vans, ready, a senior officer encouraging them: "Come on, gentlemen, let's go in". Shortly after, with a megaphone, the police are warning the public: "Warning, the police will intervene by order of the TSJC". The TSJC is the High Court of Justice of Catalonia.
Outside a market and surgery, the police find dozens of people, who they use force to remove: "we've got the strength, we've got the strength," one of them shouts. A member of the public remarks that they're there peacefully. "We only want to vote!", they shout, right in front of the police, in images blurred by the rain that morning.
In one of the clips at the same location, they are seen grabbing a women by her face and dragging her away from the gate she was clinging to.
Once inside, one of the officers summarises the plan: "a quick look round and if we don't find anything, we're going. It's impossible here". The agents climb the stairs. In the end, they don't know whether to keep looking: "I think that already... I don't know. Should we look under the desks?", one says; "Fifteen minutes more," comes the reply.
In their desperation to find the ballot boxes, the officers question a women, who they say is in charge and repeatedly insist she tell them where the boxes are. She's very nervous and says she doesn't know and that they hadn't even started voting. One of the officers, wearing a helmet, shouts loudly, right in her face: "Where are the ballot boxes?". After, two officers stay with her, trying to calm her down and saying that there's an ambulance outside. In the end, they find ballot boxes and voting slips in a bathroom.
At Mare Nostrum school in Barcelona, an officer can be heard informing their superiors that a group from the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan police, are nearby, reporting developments via their radios.
Once inside the school, anti-riot police and other officers can be seen in front of the voting tables, members of the public working at the station seated, quiet, with their ID on the tables. One of the officers tells the workers that they also want "to do things peacefully". "If you let us enter, I assure you we would invite you to a coffee," he adds. A short conversation ensues which an officer stops dead: "A political discussion isn't applicable, because that's not our job".
Outside the school again, one of the police commanders shouts at their subordinates to not talk to anyone, whilst one officer tries to talk with an old woman scolds them.
Inside another school, Els Horts de la Rambla Prim the officers open a false ceiling to look for election material. They also sledgehammer their way through a door, enter an office and start to search the room, full of carpets, cupboards and school materials.
Finally, outside Joan Bruguera school in Girona, tense scenes are to be seen. In one of them, voters put up resistance at the entrance, yelling at the officer wearing the camera, asking if they're also recording the "kicks" and "punches". A girl, close by, scolds another officer to not shout at her and says that he doesn't scare her.
Sant Martí Sesgueioles video
Another video shows the actions by the Civil Guard in Sant Martí Sesgueioles, where 40 officers were deployed for a village with 370 residents. The officers arrived around quarter to two in the afternoon. Waiting for them were a number of tractors, blocking the road to La Fábrica, the building used as the polling station with their single ballot box.