Police take to streets against government

Police take to streets against government (update)

Portugal’s police forces have begun a massive demonstration in Lisbon today (March 6) at 5.30pm. An estimated 10,000 off-duty officers from the GNR, PSP, SEF, PJ, prison services and other security forces turned out in force and gathered around Marquês de Pombal before commencing the protest.
Around 800 PSP and GNR officers, including riot police units, have been deployed to ensure security at the protest.
Traffic disruption is expected at Rua Braamcamp, Largo do Rato and Rua de São Bento.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the armed forces had threatened action through posters and videos posted on their Facebook page: “Wake-up Armed Forces… The People are Not Happy”, “Enough of Corruption! Military Intervention Now!”, “It is time for the people and the army to govern the country democratically!”.
For weeks, the national media has been full of government-fuelled ‘spin’ on Portugal’s economic upturn, but the truth, as economy minister Pires de Lima admitted last week, is that “it is taking time” for the benefits to trickle through to the people – and so far, the armed forces and police are far from impressed.
2014 is the year when “expressing indignation is no longer enough”, António Lima Coelho, the president of the national sergeants association, told journalists recently.
The army and police forces have been particularly targeted by government cuts over the last few years and have borne the brunt of austerity policies.
Union boss Paulo Rodrigues explained that cuts have taken as much as €200 a month off police salaries.
“Nobody wants to stage protests,” he said, but these are the logical consequences of the government not giving in to police demands.
He confirmed that today’s protest “will be bigger than what happened in November” when chaotic scenes of off-duty policemen demonstrating outside parliament shook the country – and have led to a number of policemen being threatened with disciplinary charges.