Hologram Protests In Spain Are Demonstrators' Way Of Speaking Up, Despite Government Ban

A new group of "citizen safety laws" that will ban protests in front of government buildings in Spain has outraged citizens across the country. After the laws were passed by the governing Popular Party in December, there were protests in 30 cities, according to the The Daily Mail. But activist group No Somos Delito, which means "We Are Not a Crime," came up with a strategy that mocks the absurdity of the laws: The group is using holographic projections of thousands of protesters in Spain to show the government that these "gag laws" won't actually silence them.

According to CNN, the laws, which would go into effect July 1, would make it illegal to gather and protest in front of government buildings, including Parliament, hospitals, and universities, without first getting permission from the government. Violators could be fined up to $645,000 for gathering and more than $30,000 for filming or photographing police officers, according to The Daily Mail. But the law doesn't say anything about projections of people, so No Somos Delito and activist group Holograms for Freedom are using the holograms as a loophole to attack the restrictions on speech and expression.

“The law is surreal — so surreal that it drove us to do something equally surreal," Carlos Escaño, the spokesperson for No Somos Delito, told Slate.

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No Somos Delito asked supporters to join the demonstration by taking video footage of themselves via a webcam. These images were combined with studio images and voice recordings from volunteers in 50 different countries to create more than 2,000 images for an hour-long protest in Madrid last Friday. Javier Urbaneja, the executive creative director of New York-based advertising firm DDB who helped create the holograms told El Mundo that the holograms are projected on a 7-foot-tall, semitransparent fabric. He said the team filmed several layers of volunteers in a green screen studio that can then mimic different backgrounds or terrain, depending on where the protest is located, to create more depth.

Holograms for Freedom claims that virtual people are now afforded greater rights to freedom of expression than people in the real world, according to The Daily Mail. Their website says the law is an outright attack on the freedom of assembly:

To respond to this injustice and to show the future (we) will have to face if this bill continues its course, we saw the need to carry out a different kind of protest that would allow our demands to become unstoppable: the first hologram protest in history. A massive protest, through which we will demonstrate, that despite the trammels imposed by the government, they will not silence our voices, and even if we have to turn ourselves into holograms, we will keep on protesting.
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Escaño said these holographic protests are ironic, because they will be the only form of protest left for Spanish citizens if the safety laws go into effect. He described the laws to Slate as a "resounding blow to democracy."

Organizers of the demonstration told CNN the laws are ultimately "turning a right into an offense for which you can be pursued, detained and judged."

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