Police have taken the Madrid suburb of Alcorcon after a street battle broke out between Spanish and Latin American youths, with hundreds of Spaniards then clashing with riot police, local officials said Monday.
The problems started Friday when two Latin Americans reportedly hit and insulted a young man and his girlfriend.
On Saturday, about 100 mostly Spanish youths came to take revenge. Witnesses said they would have lynched a Dominican family had police not rescued them from their flat.
Three people were injured in the street battle that ensued, one of them seriously. Police seized dozens of weapons such as knives, baseball bats and a sword.
Three Dominicans, two Colombians, a Bolivian and an Ecuadorian were detained.
On Sunday, up to 1,000 youths—many of them with faces covered with ski masks—were looking for Dominicans, vowing to ‘kill them.’ They hurled bottles, stones, iron bars and other objects at police who responded with rubber bullets.
Rioters also burned garbage containers and broke fences. Most shops remained closed. Two people were detained.
Police said some of the Latin Americans belonged to the street gang Latin Kings, which originated in Chicago in the 1940s, while others were not members of any such group.
A government representative, however, said there were no Latin gangs in Alcorcon and pledged to maintain a heavy police presence in the municipality of 160,000 residents.
Alcorcon officials missed the riots as an isolated occurrence.
The Spanish youths claimed they were not racist but only wanted to fight crime in Alcorcon. Some people claimed Latin Americans rented basketball courts to make locals pay for their use.
‘I was born in Spain but I am a mulatto, and police searched me several times,’ a 14-year-old boy complained.
‘We are very afraid, because now we will have to pay for this, though my son and I never cause problems,’ his Dominican mother said.
Spain has a Latin American community of more than 1.2 million people, with about 400,000 Ecuadoreans forming the largest group.
Clashes are rare between Spaniards and Latin Americans, who are mostly Spanish-speakers and come from a partly Spanish cultural background.