This was forwarded to the list by Paul Randall on 1/19. It is the first person account that I mentioned earlier today. I have reposted it below...
How are you doing? I hope all is well with you and your family.
I am writing to let you know about something that just happened to me recently here in Barcelona. I was attacked by 4 unidentified men while picking up a rental car in Barcelona. This happened on Tuesday , January 15, 2002.
In the end the attackers ended up being policemen (dressed in jeans and leather jackets) with no visible ID.
I had just come from teaching class in the Conservatory and a reheasal for our orchestra tour. I was in an underground parking structure where there is a rental car company called Easyrent-a-Car. I had just arranged my papers, left the office and walked about 15 yards to my car when in my peripheral vision I saw some one moving towards me. The next thing I knew there were at least two people grabbing me and they were not saying anything.
My first thought was that they wanted my wallet so I shouted out in spanish and english "take my wallet" when they made no move to take my ring or wallet or anything and when I saw that it was a group of young guys in leather jackets and jeans I started thinking that I was being attacked by some sort of racial group or some one who was simply out to do physical damage to me. I know that they were hitting me with some sort of stick and grabbed my neck. I started screaming " I am a citizen of the United States" in english and spanish.
After they had done the damage, (many large bruises, cut lip, elbow, neck trauma) I heard some one saying "policia!". I really was just wondering why these attackers were saying police and it was only when I saw the handcuffs that I started to have some hope that they were police and not vandals or terrorist attackers. Once handcuffed, I asked them why did you do this to me? They said, at some point, that they were looking for a man of color that was stealing cars. So, I told them that I was the principal trumpet player of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra here in Catalunya. I asked them hadn't they seen my face on TV, or on the posters that had been hanging up all over the city? While being handcuffed, I showed them my trumpets which were in the car. When they looked at my trumpets in the rental car , they still did not believe that I was who I said I was. They proceeded to take me to the police station because they said that I attacked their group and that I resisted police arrest.
Once they told me that they were looking for a "person of color who was stealing cars" I asked them what other description they had and they just said "person of color". I asked what other physical characteristics did they have as a description? (height, build, weight, complexion, hair color, length of hair, facial characteristics, ect.) They replied by saying no, we were looking for a colored man who was stealing cars.
I made it clear to them that I was sure that I was being mugged or worse because they showed no ID and did not say the word police until they had already wrestled me to the ground and beat me. They said absolutely nothing while beating me.
By the time we got to the police station I saw that they were beginning to see that I was not who they were looking for and that I was simply trying to escape a bunch of guys who jumped me. At the station I heard their boss on the phone say that they had the Principal Trumpet player from the Barcelona symphony and that they wanted to do the paper work as fast as possible so that I could go. They had taken me to a hospital, but since the nurse thought I was a criminal she barely looked at me. Finally a lawyer arrived at the station and I made my statement and they let me go.
In the end, they were telling me that they thought they were controlled because they didn't break any bones, nor did they shoot me. When I made my statement, I made it clear that at no moment did I see a badge. I think that they were so sure that they had their "man of color" they did not bother trying to talk to me first. They just jumped on me. Once they let me go I went to the orchestra hall and called a neighbor to take me to the hospital. He picked Karen up and brought me to the hospital where they took note of the bruises on my legsbuttocks, and back, my cut lip, and the fact that it hurt to move my neck. After giving me a neckbrace and some medicine for the pain,they let us come home.
These undercover officers started to say I was trying to run away but later ended up saying that they understood that I thought they were attacking me for money or otherwise. My neighbor likes to say that Spain fights for human rights, but tonight I felt completely invaded and that they saw one thing "unhombre de color".
I am supposed to go on tour as principal trumpet with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra this coming Monday, (January 21) to the US. We are to play in halls in Miami, Gainesville, Orlando, Williamsburg, Kennedy Center, DC, and Carnegie Hall in NY. I will not be able play on this tour. And, my concerts with Karen have been put in jeopardy this coming month.
Will you pass this story on to as many people as you see fit. In the meantime, the American Consulate has taken action, and we are currently being advised by lawyers. We will keep you posted to events. There has been a big uprising of support from thousands of citizens here in Spain, and outside, and from hundreds of musicians. It hit the papers and tv stations and radio broadcasts on Thursday morning. We have had every TV station and news reporter here in our house taking pictures of the contusions on my body.
There have many articles in the Spanish national press showing support and solidarity.
I am really just hoping that something can be done so that this does not happen to anyone else. We are all human beings and no one deserves to be treated otherwise.
I hope all is going well with you and I look foward to corresponding with you about happier subjects. : )