In 2012 in Asturias, Spain, tens of thousands of miners, along with their family members and supporters took to the streets to defend their jobs in the face of neoliberal cutbacks. Because they knew that peaceful protests have never accomplished anything, they also blocked highways and trainlines, carried out sabotage, and fought with police who inevitably came to evict them. And because they had brains, they wore masks. There was also broad popular support for the miners and against the police.
The strike in 2012 was not nearly as large or combative as the Asturian miners’ strike of 1934, an important precursor to the 1936 revolution, and one that was ultimately crushed by future fascist dictator Francisco Franco. The 1934 strike developed into a revolutionary uprising, and while many of the strikers that time did not wear masks, we should also take into account that in those days the police did not often take photos of protestors and arrest them later. The sabotage, lawbreaking, barricading, street-fighting, and property destruction of the miners in 2012 is part of the legacy, part of the same struggle, as the uprising in 1934, and even though the people ultimately lost (and can never win as long as they only fight for their jobs and not for their own lives), what little safety and security we have, we have thanks to these struggles. Only a scab, a snitch, or a cop could denounce these struggles.