A cafe manager has become a hero to many in Spain, and an Internet star, after standing up to riot police and letting people protesting government cutbacks take refuge in his establishment.
Alberto Casillas stood at the entrance to the Cafe Prado in central Madrid with his arms outstretched to stop police from entering and detaining demonstrators who poured into the cafe when police charged the protestors.
Videos of the 49-year-old, wearing a white shirt and black tie as he blocked the doorway as protestors cowered behind him, have since become one of the most discussed on social media sites like Twitter.
“People started to file into the cafe in huge numbers. There were between 200 and 300 people inside at the time. There were children, youths, elderly people. If anyone got injured I would have felt very bad,” said Casillas.
Riot police in helmets fired rubber bullets and struck people with their batons to clear thousands of protestors who swamped the Plaza de Neptuno square near parliament to protest austerity measures imposed by the government.
Casillas, who voted for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party in a general election last year, said the police action was “disproportionate.” “You can’t justify a police charge because people threw rocks. Police struck people indiscriminately.”
Casillas said he is not sure if he will vote for the Popular Party again. “I did not vote for the Popular Party to see all this that is going on. You can’t govern from behind the barricades,” he said.