There was a massive turnout in the streets of Madrid on Friday evening, protesting Spain’s new draconian anti-protest laws. There was no police brutality and no arrests were made, as in reality, no one was actually there. This was most likely the world’s first virtual protest and it looked pretty darn impressive.
In an effort to curb the ongoing anti-austerity protests, Spain has introduced the “Leyes Mordaza,” or so-called safety or gag laws, which make it illegal to protest outside government buildings, refuse to reveal identification documents, or insult police officers.
Huge fines have been imposed of up to 600,000 euros (just under $650,000) for holding unauthorized protests in the country’s capital, despite the fact that more governmental corruption is being revealed, austerity continues to hit the public, budget cuts affect the medical and scientific spheres, unemployment is extremely high, and people are losing their homes on an almost daily basis.
In what was dubbed an “act of irony,” a virtual protest using three-dimensional projection images was held in the center of the city using hologram techniques.
Protesta virtual ante la "ley mordaza" http://t.co/acG3OiSG3v
— Rómulo (@CastilloLespe) April 10, 2015
Tweet translation: “Virtual protest against the ‘safety law.'”
As reported by the Spanish language Huffington Post, the protesters wanted the ability to speak out, but the Spanish government is trying to suppress this. Escaño, a spokesman for the protesters, said that the virtual protest was “an act of irony” and that they can only speak out without being in the street.
Escaño did say that this doesn’t mean they will stop physically protesting. They are trying to get their point across in a different manner and their point is, apparently, getting across as the UN has urged Spain to withdraw the new “gag law,” which officially comes into force on July 1.
— CriSs_ (@Mel89Cris) April 10, 2015
Tweet translation: “Against the future ‘gag laws,’ protest as a HOLOGRAM. First virtual demonstration.”
In order to make the hologram images used in Friday’s virtual protest, people from all over the world (Argentina, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom) have been scanning themselves and uploading to the website hologramasporlalibertad.org (holograms for freedom) in order to be virtually present at Friday’s event.
Javier Urbaneja, the creative director of DDB who worked on the virtual protest project, said that some people used a webcam, others merely recorded their voices and submitted them, and others sent slogans to be used on the banners in the virtual protest. In one way or another, over 18,000 people participated.
As can be seen from the video included above, the virtual protest brought forth an eerie scene, but one that will hopefully have some effect in preventing the draconian new law.