Chaotic scenes have played out in downtown Barcelona after supporters of jailed Catalonia independence leaders set off towards 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 Span’s autonomous region, on Saturday, in a pro-independence protest called by CDR (Committees for the Defence of the Republic).
The demonstrators set to march towards the National Police Headquarters, but were met by hundreds of police in full riot gear. The protest, that began around 7.30pm local time, quickly turned violent as demonstrators began hurling various objects, such as eggs, plastic balls and rocks at police armed with batons and shields.
As tensions flared up, Catalan Autonomous Police, Mossos de Escuadra, 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 show several riot vans cutting through the crowd to the loud boos from the demonstrators in what some pro-independence activists denounced as a provocation by law enforcement.
Another video shows protesters ganging up on police vehicles, bombarding them with flares and some plastic objects while chanting pro-independence slogans.
Protesters used trash to erect barricades in the streets and set them alight in a bid to stop police from moving in. A video has emerged showing firefighters putting down the flames on Pau Claris.
Several videos, that show police charging on demonstrators with batons after they verbally confront them, sparked accusations of police brutality.
One video purportedly shows armed police rounding up diners in an outdoor café.
Local media reported at least two demonstrators were arrested, and some 30 people have been injured, including members of the media. Fifteen people have since been discharged from hospital A police officer was seriously hurt in the skirmishes, reportedly after falling from a police van.
While the night-time action was marred by violence, the afternoon rally that saw some 350,000 taking to streets in support of the jailed Catalan leaders took place without incident.
The city has been gripped with protests since October 14, when the country’s Supreme Court sentenced a group of Catalan politicians responsible for carrying out the 2017 independence referendum to lengthy prison sentences.
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