The sixth day of protests on Saturday against the verdict in the Catalan independence trial remained relatively peaceful in comparison to previous nights, with no major clashes between police and protestors.
Demonstrations started at about 6pm in Barcelona’s Plaça Urquinaona, a square in the city centre – and the same spot where riots took place on Friday night. Local police had recommended that shops close before regular times ‘due to the risk of altercations’. Underground Metro trains did not stop at Urquinaona station, and access to Plaça Catalunya and Arc de Triomf stations was also closed.
Protestors again demanded ‘freedom for the political prisoners’ and also the end of ‘police repression’ against them.
Whilst on Friday demonstrators had thrown fireworks and stones at police – who’d responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons – on Saturday night those arriving at Plaça Uquinaona were having their bags searched.
At around the same time, members of the association En Peu de Pau (‘On a Peace Footing’) were cordoning off the nearby Via Laietana street by joining arms – separating protestors from the police in order to keep the area peaceful.
The march then moved to Arc de Triomf area. In all, an estimated 6,000 people joined the protest. The rally again remained peaceful, with demonstrators sitting on the ground lifting hands, and no major clashes were reported. The Spanish police charged at a handful of sitting citizens in order to remove them of the road, but in the early evening riots did not occur.
This followed a day of reactions of all sorts by Catalan and Spanish politicians, as well as some leading social figures and entities.
Fifth night – counting the cost
Friday’s fifth night of unrest in Catalonia had been the worst of the week in terms of tension and clashes between protestors and the police, especially in Barcelona.
The general strike and peaceful protests of Friday in the daytime, including a 525,000-strong rally in the capital’s Passeig de Gràcia, gave way to another demonstration in the evening in Barcelona.
The march, starting in Via Laietana street, outside the Spanish National Police barracks, had quickly led to clashes between the demonstrators and the officers of the Catalan and Spanish law enforcement, in places including the iconic Plaça Catalunya and La Rambla.
For several hours until the early hours of Saturday, the police had used rubber bullets, batons and tear gas to dissuade protestors, as they were building barricades with furniture from terrace bars and restaurants, as well as trash cans.
Demonstrators had also pulled out pieces of paving using shovels, hammers and chisels to throw stones at the officers.
The Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, used water trucks for the first time since riots started on Monday, but only to plough through the barricades, and not to try to dissuade people, according to the law enforcement.
In other cities including Lleida, Tarragona and Girona heated riots with similar images as the ones seen in Barcelona were also held.
There were also reports of Spanish police officers shooting rubber bullets at journalists perfectly identified with vests and armbands in Barcelona.
Photojournalist Albert Garcia was arrested in Barcelona’s Urquinaona square by Spain’s police whilst taking pictures of a detention carried out by Spanish police officers. Witnesses question police accusations that he hit an agent. He was released after a night held in custody.
In all, the Catalan police arrested 54 people during Friday night, with 18 in Lleida, 12 in Girona, 12 in Barcelona and 9 in Tarragona – and 18 officers were injured.
The Catalan medical emergencies service treated 182 people across the country.
On Saturday early afternoon, 19 people were still in hospital, with one person in very serious condition in the Vall d’Hebron centre. Two people lost an eye, with another one pending an operation to save the sight.
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