Netflix used images of Spanish police officers in Catalonia documentary without permission and out of context to reinforce narrative
  • Author, a serving police officer, says no one from Netflix asked permission to use his footage
  • Images “taken totally out of context”, says police association secretary general
  • Original footage proves men were in Madrid on October 6

Video footage in the Netflix documentary Two Catalonias of Spanish police officers chanting “go get ‘em” on a coach was not officers being sent to Catalonia for public order duties during last year’s separatist crisis but members of a police association on a trip to a demonstration in Madrid about salary levels.

“This is a video that they have manipulated”, the Secretary General of Jusapol, Miguel Gómez, told me on Monday: “and taken totally out of context”.

The man who recorded the images, José Luis Molina, also a serving police officer, described the use of his footage by Netflix as "deplorable" and "degrading".

He also said no one from Netflix had contacted him for permission to use the images in the documentary.

He told me by telephone that two coaches full of officers belonging to the association had left Valencia for Madrid that day, and that the images had been recorded from the centre of the Spanish capital, “on Calle Goya, just as we arrived”.

“It was a very important day for us”, he said, referring to the rally for equal pay with other regional police officers: “and we were singing a Spanish football song”.

Mr. Molina provided me with a copy of the original video he had recorded that day, which is longer at one minute and 52 seconds than either the YouTube video titled “Police officers chant ‘go get ‘em’ on the way to Catalonia”, or the short clip Netflix uses in Two Catalonias.

He also provided screenshots from his mobile phone camera roll that carried a timestamp of October 6, 2017 at 10:36 a.m., nine hours before a section of the video was uploaded to YouTube, at 7:26 p.m., Madrid time.

The original video, which shows the officers singing several boisterous songs—none of them offensive to Catalans, Catalan separatists or any other group—also shows the bus briefly passing a WeZink centre (see top-right corner of previous screenshot).

The WeZink centre in Madrid is on Calle Goya.

In Two Catalonias, a few seconds of Mr. Molina’s video footage—the ones with the officers chanting “go get ‘em”—are included in the documentary’s introductory section, along with three or four other clips of Spanish police officers or civil guards, all supposedly on their way to Catalonia—according to the narrative in the documentary—to harass and beat separatists on October 1, cheered on by flag-waving Spaniards from the rest of the country.

Just before the section in question, Mariano Rajoy declares the vote will not happen, and just after it, images of the October 1 clashes between riot police and voters at polling stations are shown.

The Jusapol demonstration, however, took place on October 6, 2017, five days after the clashes in Catalonia. La Vanguardia reported the same day that “thousands” of officers had attended the rally in the Spanish capital. In a statement in February, Jusapol claimed (pdf) 30,000 attendees.

The Netflix documentary thus misrepresents Mr. Molina’s images, presenting them to viewers as part of events that they were not part of in reality.

He explained that none of the officers on the two coaches that day had been sent to Catalonia as reinforcements: “we were all from Valencia, and all in units not sent to Barcelona”.

The men on the coach were wearing their dark-blue Jusapol t-shirts, “the ones they made in Valencia, each region made its own”, said Mr. Gómez, who added it was impossible for them to have been officers on the way to Catalonia, not only because they were in Madrid for a rally but because of how they were travelling and what they were wearing.

Spanish National Police officers sent as reinforcements to Catalonia last year travelled to the region in their police vehicles and wearing their uniforms, not on coaches in Jusapol t-shirts, both officers confirmed.

“It would be impossible for an officer to be travelling to his duty station or on a mission like that”, said Mr. Molina.

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