Concha’s killing shakes Lavapiés and raises urgent questions around police objectives

Yesterday afternoon, our neighbour Concha was attacked and killed in her clothing shop, Vistebien, on Plaza Tirso de Molina. The 61-year-old grandmother-to-be was stabbed in her abdomen by a man presumed to be attempting to rob her.

According to eyewitnesses, Concha managed to get out from behind the counter to indicate her injuries to a passer-by. A nearby waiter flagged down patrolling police who attempted to revive Concha, but she’d suffered fatal blood loss as well as a heart attack and was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after falling unconscious.

According to witnesses, the attacker escaped in the direction of Atocha or Lavapiés. He is male, was wearing a checked shirt and is believed to have blood stains on his trousers.

The seemingly spontaneous killing has shaken Lavapiés, a neighbourhood already more familiar with knife crime than most other parts of Madrid. Shop keepers surrounding the store feel this could easily have happened to them, despite the barrio having the largest police presence in the city – around 40% of municipal offers on duty are deployed to Lavapiés at any given time.

Concha is survived by her husband, José Luis, whose family founded their business in 1954. They expanded and took over Vistebien in 1983, where Concha worked until yesterday. It’s on the same block as the Teatro Nuevo Apolo and well-known underground nightclub Medias Puri. At night, long queues form in front of Vistebien and snake into the children’s playground in front.

The square has long suffered gentrification and touristification, and the community is dwindling. The general feeling here is that, despite extreme police presence, crime continues, and this feels intentional. The more crimes that are committed and reported in the papers, the more justification the right-wing city council thinks it has to increase police presence and cut social workers.

Policing in Lavapiés is authoritarian and intimidating – it gives tourists a sense of security while leaving us, the neighbours, feeling isolated and abandonded.

With fear increasing, questions must be answered rapidly. How, despite having the highest concentration of police in the city, do we also have the most crime?

Our thoughts are with Concha and her family.


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