Fierce clashes in Barcelona as pro-independence demonstrators & police face off

26 Oct, 2019 by

A Catalan pro-independence demonstrator throws a fence into a fire during a protest against police action in Barcelona, Spain, October 26, 2019. © REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Chaotic scenes played out in downtown Barcelona after supporters of jailed Catalonia independence leaders set off towards the national police HQ, throwing projectiles at riot officers who responded with batons and foam bullets.

Around 10,000 people swarmed the streets of Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s autonomous region, on Saturday, in a pro-independence protest called by the CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Republic).

© Reuters / Jon Nazca

The demonstrators set off to march towards the National Police headquarters, but were met by hundreds of police in full riot gear. The protest, which began around 7:30pm local time, quickly turned violent as demonstrators began hurling objects such as eggs, plastic balls, and rocks at police armed with batons and shields.

As tensions flared up, the Catalan Autonomous Police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, moved to disperse the crowd in Vía Laietana, a major thoroughfare popular with tourists where the national police HQ is located.

Footage from the scene shows several riot vans cutting through the crowd to the loud boos of demonstrators, in what some pro-independence activists denounced as a provocation by law enforcement.

While the night-time action was marred by violence, the afternoon rally that saw 350,000 taking to streets in support of the jailed Catalan leaders took place without incident.

The city has been gripped by protests since October 14, when the nation’s Supreme Court sentenced a group of Catalan politicians responsible for carrying out the 2017 independence referendum to lengthy prison terms.