Riots hit Madrid amid outrage over death of African street vendor

The death of a street vendor in Madrid this week sparked a wave of violent protests Friday, leading to the arrests of several people, authorities said.

Senegalese citizens confront police during protests at Nelson Madela square in Lavapies district in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday. Photo by Luca Piergiovanni/EPA-EFE
Senegalese citizens confront police during protests at Nelson Madela square in Lavapies district in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday. Photo by Luca Piergiovanni/EPA-EFE

Mame Mbaye, 35, of Senegal, died Thursday after going into cardiac arrest on a street in the Spanish capital. Witnesses said he collapsed while being chased by police officers on motorcycles.

Friday, rioters in Lavapiés district set fire to trash bins and parked vehicles, leading police to respond with rubber bullets. Demonstrators also damaged bus stops, patrol cars and shops as the protest quickly spread, officials and witnesses said.

Protesters threw stones and other objects. Nearly two dozen people were injured, along with 10 officers. Firefighters were called in as protesters torched bins throughout the city.

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena called for a full investigation.

“I’m terribly sorry about the death of a citizen in Lavapiés. From the city Council we will thoroughly investigate what happened and act accordingly. All my solidarity with family and friends,” Carmena tweeted.

City officials, who have denied police chased Mbaye, said officers had found him lying on the ground and began resuscitation efforts until emergency crews arrived.

By Susan McFarland