Protesters in Spain enraged with austerity cutbacks and tax hikes clashed with police near Parliament today. More than 1,000 riot police blocked off access to the Parliament building in the heart of Madrid, forcing most protesters to crowd nearby avenues and shutting down traffic at the height of the evening rush hour. Police used batons to push back some protesters at the front of the march attended by an estimated 6,000 people. Television images showed officers beating protesters, along with protesters throwing rocks at police. Spanish state TV said at least 28 were injured, including two officers, and that 22 people were detained.
The demonstration, organized with an "Occupy Congress" slogan, drew protesters from all walks of life weary of nine straight months of painful economic austerity measures imposed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his solid majority of lawmakers. Smaller demonstrations attracted hundreds of protesters in Barcelona and Seville. Spain is struggling in its second recession in three years with unemployment near 25%. The government is expected to present a new batch of reforms Thursday as it unveils a draft budget for 2013.