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  • It's probably difficult to forget your first riot. Some vivid images come to mind:

    - Chanting and screaming
    - The rock that smashed against the wall 6 inches from my head
    - Police with their shields
    - Kids with their megaphones

    I was living in Barcelona, and the teachers decided to strike. In support of their teachers, all of the students assembled for a demonstration, which quickly got out of hand. Hours earlier, El Borne (the square in the picture) had its normal weekday morning activity. Not realizing that day was different from any other, I left our apartment to head to the University.

    It seemed like there were more people than usual out, and I kept getting knocked around and jostled. I turned a corner, and found myself behind a line of riot police in full gear - shields, helmets and nightsticks. Everything was being spoken (or shouted) in Catalan, a language that I had struggled with.

    The rock that struck the wall shattered about 6 inches from my head. I was suddenly covered in dust, and bleeding slightly from a cut that I didn't know I had. It wasn't the first rock and it wouldn't be the last, but it seemed to coincide with the police moving in to disperse the crowd. I ducked around a corner, but every alley I went down was filled with people. Those were some tense moments, where it seemed like there was no right side to be on - on the one hand you have the police bearing down on you, on the other rocks were being thrown.

    Somehow I found my way back to my apartment, and was able to clean up.

    I didn't make it to school that day.
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