‘Unless you get out of here, I’m arresting you’, shouted a Spanish national police agent
Xavier Rull, linguistics professor of the Rovira i Virgili University (Tarragona) was threatened yesterday by a Spanish police officer for having spoken in Catalan ‘Unless you get out of here, I’m arresting you’, yelled to him. Rull presented a complain because the agent had not attended him in Catalan but he is considering to add the threats to it.
The professor went yesterday [23rd of March] to the Reus Police station in order to renew his passport. He went with his wife, who had to do a similar procedure. Both live in Valls, but the service is not available there. When they arrived to the lobby, an officer asked them in Spanish whether they had booked the service beforehand. Rull asked in Catalan that “Yes, at half past six in the evening”, but the police officer put an angry face and said “How? I can’t understand you”. “Eighteen thirty”, said the professor. The agent shrugged and repeated he did not understand him.
Because of his stubborness, Rull asked to be attended by another agent. “I don’t understand you”, answered the one he had been talking to. Finally he switched to Spanish and made the same request. “It’s just me here”, answered him. Fed up with not making any progress, the professor decided to present a complain for the officer’s attitude. He left the lobby and went to the public attention area.
There were three agents there. “I say I want to make a complain and they ask me to explain myself. I explain everything in Catalan and then one of them says ‘I can’t understand you’ in Spanish”. Rull addressed himself to another agent in order to make the complain. “A what? There is a savings bank [Note of the Translator: the confusion arising from the phonetic similarity between “Queixa”, complain and “Caixa”, savings bank] office further down the street”, they answered. The last agent stood up. “Do you want the documentation in Catalan?” he asked in Spanish. He said yes and presented the complain.
Once written and presented, Rull returned to the lobby. He and his partner followed the procedures to renew their documents without any trouble. When they were leaving the station, Rull said goodbye in Catalan to the agent with whom he had had the incident. He stopped him shouting and asked for his identity card. “I gave it to him because I know I have to, but he didn’t tell me why”, he affirms. The agent took his perrsonal data and then yelled “Who do you think you are calling me a miserable?”. Rull’s partner tried to make clear that he had wished him goodbye in Catalan [fins una altra], but the police officer started yelling “Unless you get out of here, I’m arresting you”, he threatened. “If you have to do it, arrest me now”, answered Rull. The agend continued heckling him and threatening to arrest him. Finally he decided to leave the premises.
Rull is now waiting for the result of his complain, and does not rule out presenting a second one because of the threats. “And while I wait, I don’t know whether the agent will denounce me. Right now I just know he has my data”, he explains. In the case he should be denounced, he asserts that there are witnesses of the facts that would support his version.
Source: Vilaweb, 24th of March, 2017.
Author: Oriol Bäbler