Society 28/02/2021

Largest march against repression ends in the worst riots

Up to 14 arrested for setting fire to a police van and several banks, and looting shops after peaceful demonstration

Ara
4 min
A Guardia Urbana's vehicle set on fire yesterday at the Rambla

The truce was short-lived. The resumption of the mobilizations against the imprisonment of the rapper Pablo Hasél -there have already been twelve days of protest- has also made the riots return to the streets of Barcelona. The demonstration called in the Plaça Universitat in Barcelona under the slogan Sense futur no tenim res a perdre ("Without future we have nothing to lose") has been the most crowded so far, with about 4.4,000 people according to the City Police (Guardia Urbana), in a call that added several demands: freedom of expression -and freedom for the rapper Pablo Hasél-, the right to housing, the halting of evictions, the regulation of rents, the amnesty of political prisoners and the repeal of the labor reform and the so-called gag law. A welter of different slogans because there were also different entities that supported the demonstration. Although it has been called spontaneously and has been spreading through social networks, organizations such as the Sindicat de Llogateres, the CDR, Arran, the SEPC or parties like Podemos and the CUP have encouraged the population to attend.

The lobby of the Hotel Calderon, on the Rambla de Catalunya in Barcelona

People have been arriving at Universitat from three columns that have left from Plaça de Sants, Lesseps and Gran Via with Marina. There was a strong police presence, with 10 vans of the Catalan police (Mossos d'Esquadra) , helicopter and agents on foot. The demonstration has developed in a calm and vindictive atmosphere, with a majority of young demonstrators behind two banners that read: Llibertat Pablo Hasél ("Freedom for Pablo Hasél") and Fins que caiguin. Res a perdre. Tot per guanyar ("Until they fall. Nothing to lose. Everything to win"). Once in Plaça Universitat, the protest headed towards Ronda Sant Antoni, continued along Sepúlveda street and then Villarroel street, and then back towards Ronda and the Mercat de Sant Antoni. From there, the demonstrators went towards the Raval district along Sant Antoni Abat street, while some shops lowered their shutters early.

The demonstrators have created damages and made graffitis in about a dozen banks. In Carrer de les Tàpies the demonstration came up against a police line, which caused some moments of tension and some throwing of objects. At various times, groups of demonstrators also confronted journalists covering the demonstration to ask them not to record.

Last Saturday's march in Barcelona

Looting and fire as the demonstration dispersed

When the demonstration reached the Rambla, and some containers were already burning, about twenty demonstrators set fire to a Guardia Urbana van (the officer inside was able to get out) and threw objects at the Guardia Urbana police station. The riot police announced over the loudspeakers that they would intervene and the demonstrators dispersed through the streets around the Rambla.

Mossos d'Esquadra agents lifting a motorcycle thrown on the street

It was then that a group of vandals took advantage of the chaos to loot and burn a Zara and Decathlon store on Canuda street, which had already been vandalized last week, and also sprayed flammable liquid on the NH hotel on Diputació street, which ended up with all the windows broken, and the Volkswagen dealership next door. They also set fire to one of the most emblematic shops in the city, the Casa dels Paraigües, on the Rambla de Barcelona, where there is a bank office.

The riots have moved to Rambla Catalunya, where groups of vandals have thrown chairs and tables from restaurants on the ground and have continued looting in some commercial establishments and made barricades in the area. The Mossos, as reported by the Minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Sàmper, have arrested 10 people for the "violent and vandalic" acts, and at least one of the detainees is related to the burning of the police van. The Guardia Urbana has made 3 more arrests. The Emergency Medical Service have assisted four people, one of whom has been transferred in less serious condition to a hospital.

A demonstrator next to a burning rubbish container in barcelona

The Mossos d'Esquadra have detected that between 250 and 300 people with violent attitude, divided into groups of between 15 and 20 people, acted in a coordinated manner in parallel to the majority of the demonstration, according to ACN.

Demonstrations across the country

About 300 people have demonstrated in Lleida; in Girona 150 people have gathered, and in Tarragona a hundred. The march in Tarragona was led by a banner calling for the release of Cristian Mestre, from Reus, in custody in Granada on charges of public disorder, damage and assault on police officers in the context of protests in favour of Hasél in this Andalusian city.

In Sabadell, a group of demonstrators have thrown paint and pyrotechnic material against the agents of the riot police brigade that guarded the building of the courts of Sabadell. The incidents began at the end of a peaceful rally in the Plaça de la Vila, where about two hundred people had gathered.

All this, preceded by a day of mobilizations in Barcelona and other parts of the country. Yesterday morning hundreds of people demonstrated in the neighborhood of Sants in support of the neighbor who since Monday was in prison accused of mounting barricades in the riots in Barcelona during the protests in support of Pablo Hasél, who was released on Friday. In Girona, half a thousand people have also taken to the streets peacefully; before, early in the morning, dozens of people had cut the AP-7 for almost two hours. In Terrassa, some people have concentrated in front of the police station of the Mossos d'Esquadra to ask for the freedom of the seven people arrested in the protests of Friday night, who have already been released.

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