La gent de l’escala (The People on the Steps) is a first-person account from some of the people who defended the Pau Claris high school in Barcelona on 1 October 2017. It is a documentary that puts faces to some of the protagonists of a video that went viral in a very short time: that of an officer of the Spanish National Police force jumping down a flight of stairs and kicking a citizen.
We have all seen videos of the police intervention that day at different schools. But La gent de l’escala is the first time that people who were at a polling station, the Pau Claris high school, tell how they lived those events, minute by minute; from when they got up in the morning until when the police entered the school and took away the ballot boxes, as well as subsequent events.
La gent de l’escala is a narratively fast-paced and emotionally intense story. For a little over an hour we get to know a group of people who, having never met each other before, developed a very strong bond. A bond that is summed up in one image: that of them sitting on the steps waiting for the police to arrive.
23 testimonies from people of all ages, social classes, and ideologies; people from the same neighbourhood who were there at the time provide an account that goes beyond any political divides to appeal to us as viewers. We will see how Maria and Pau, mother and son, experienced those moments, how they arrived at the school together and ended the day at the hospital filing a report for assault. We will also hear the point of view of a group of Basques and Majorcans who were in the polling station and who were key to the defence of the ballot boxes; we will see the reaction of María José, a combative grandmother who ended up throwing the police out of the polling station; the experience of Raquel, who went weeks without eating or sleeping; and the testimony of Marta, who, after being dragged down the stairs by two policemen and ending up with her fingers immobilized, was branded the “great liar of 1 October”.
Did the people on the stairs manage to vote? Do they believe society has been split? Where are they now in their lives? How do they explain the police violence a year later? Have they got over everything that happened to them? And, above all; would they sit on the stairs of the Pau Claris school again, knowing they would be assaulted?
23 people reported having suffered injuries during the police intervention at the Pau Claris school. At the beginning of September the examining magistrate number 7 in Barcelona started an investigation into three officers from the National Police for their conduct at the polling station. The judge considers their actions “disproportionate and dangerous”. The National Police officers who took part in the Pau Claris operation have refused to participate in this documentary.