Society 19/02/2021

Fourth night of riots in Barcelona and Girona over Hasél's incarceration

Barricades are up again with containers ablaze and bank branches damaged

3 min
Broken glass and graffiti on bank branches on the fourth night of demonstration in Barcelona

BarcelonaNothing suggests that the riots over the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel will end. In a new day of protests, Barcelona has seen the fourth consecutive night of riots, which have also returned to Girona after a day of calm. At the moment, the Catalan police - known as the Mossos d'Esquadra - have made three arrests: one in Barcelona and two in Girona. In Barcelona, thousands of people gathered in Plaça Universitat before marching down the Via Laietana, where they have stopped in front of the Spanish National Police Headquarters, cordoned off by Mossos d'Esquadra's riot units, and have ended in the Rambla and Plaça Catalunya, where the riots later took hold. The first barricades with containers were put up a few minutes after eight o'clock in the area of Pla de Palau, at the junction with Marqués de l'Argentera avenue. Some groups have also vandalised bank branches, breaking glass and writing graffiti on the walls.

Containers alight around Pla de Palau de Barcelona

Right now, the tension is between the Rambla and Plaça Catalunya, where according to the Mossos at least two establishments have been looted: the Decathlon in Canuda street and the Footlooker store in the shopping center El Triangle. On the Rambla there have also been clashes in front of the police station of the Guardia Urbana, where they have put up barricades with motorcycles and street furniture.

A group of demonstrators during the riots in Barcelona

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Girona for the fourth consecutive night in protest against the imprisonment of the singer Pablo Hasél. The first clashes with the Mossos took place around half past eight in the evening. They have thrown stones against the facade of the courts and the police line. Shortly afterwards, the police line began to advance towards the demonstrators without charging and arrested at least two people. A group of demonstrators broke the windows of several banks in Plaça Independència and ransacked them. Barricades were put up in Sèquia street and stones were thrown against the police line located in front of the Spanish Government's subdelegation. A violent group dismantled street furniture to throw it against the police in the Plaça 1 d'Octubre and broke windows of a bank in Plaça Mercadal.

The CUP MP and former mayor of Celrà, Dani Cornellà, had to be treated for a blow to the head during the demonstration in support of Pablo Hasél in the capital of Girona. According to ACN, an Mosso hit him on the ear with his truncheon. Cornellà is considering reporting the attack.

As for Vilafranca del Penedès, the protests have brought together nearly 200 people and the riots began when some protesters have thrown fireworks against the police line in front of the police station. They have destroyed the security fences surrounding the perimeter of the Mossos police station, where they have thrown stones and paint against a police vehicle. One person has had to be treated by the emergency services, but had minor injuries and did not need to be taken to a health center.

Students demonstrate at noon

Friday's mobilisations had begun at noon, without incident, in the form of a strike organised by the Sindicat d'Estudiants dels Països Catalans (SEPC), the university union of the pro-independence left. Under the slogan "Amnesty and independence, universities for freedom", rallies have been organised in the four provincial capitals of the Principality. In Barcelona, hundreds of demonstrators gathered at 12 noon in the Plaça Universitat, entered the cloister of the central building of the University of Barcelona and then moved through the center of the Catalan capital, stopping at the National Police station on Via Laietana, where they lit flares and threw firecrackers, and the rectorate of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Both at the beginning and at the end of the demonstration proclamations have been made in favor of freedom of expression and the release of Hasél, and against the arrests that have been made during these days of protests.

Estudiants sortint al carrer per iniciar la protesta

The university protests come after three days of rioting that have ended with dozens of arrests, some minor injuries and a 19-year-old girl losing an eye, allegedly due to a foam bullet fired by the Mossos d'Esquadra. The mobilisations began with great force in Barcelona, Girona and Lleida, but have been spreading throughout the country. There have been protests in dozens of cities and violence between protesters and police has also reached Sabadell and Tarragona, as well as Valencia and Madrid.

Ombudsman requests European intervention

Catalan ombudsman Rafael Ribó has asked various European authorities to intervene in the case of Pablo Hasél. Tibó has highlighted that freedom of expression "has no limits" and is precisely what European courts establish. Therefore, he is seeking a EU report on freedom of expression in Spain, following the lines of the EU report on detained MPs which focused on Spain and Turkey. Ribó met Hasél at the Ponent prison and has said he looks "strong", according to ACN.

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