MADRID (Reuters) – Hundreds of people held a peaceful protest in central Madrid on Friday to demand better police treatment of street vendors, a day after the death of a Senegalese man sparked clashes with riot police.
On Thursday, 35-year-old Sengal street vendor Mame Mbaye Ndiaye suffered a heart attack in the street while walking away from police. That evening protesters threw stones and set dustbins alight in Madrid’s Lavapies neighborhood, home to many migrant communities and near to where Ndiaye died.
Friday’s gathering in a square in Lavapies passed without violence. Protesters held signs reading slogans such as “Enough of police harassment” and chanted “Police murderers”.
Madrid’s Mayor Manuela Carmena has said the council would investigate the incident. At a news conference on Friday, a spokeswoman for the council said municipal police did not chase Mbaye as reported by some of the protesters.
A police van was flagged down by Mbaye’s companion and two officers tried to revive him while calling an ambulance but he died, the town hall said in a statement.
Twenty people were injured during clashes with police on Thursday evening, the town hall said.
Illegal street sellers, many of them African migrants, are a common sight in Madrid and other Spanish cities. Hawking anything from watches to handbags, they often lay out their wares on blankets which can be quickly gathered up and stowed away to avoid police scrutiny.
(Reporting By Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)