Society 18/02/2021

Catalan police open an investigation into the loss of a girl's eye in the Hasél protests

Second day of unrest sees 33 arrests and 14 people treated by emergency services

3 min
Cleaning of graffiti during the demonstrations for Hasel's freedom
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BarcelonaThe Mossos d'Esquadra have opened an investigation to clarify what happened in the case of the girl who lost an eye probably due to the impact of a foam bullet during the first night of riots in Barcelona after the demonstrations for the freedom of Pablo Hasél. The director of the force, Pere Ferrer, has said that they have already contacted the family of the affected, and also the Center for the Defense of Human Rights Irídia, who are those who alerted of the case, and has promised "maximum transparency". Commissioner Joan Carles Molinero explained at a press conference after the second night of riots that they are analyzing the traceability of the bullets that were fired and will determine whether they were used following all internal protocols. According to the force, during the first night of riots 300 foam bullets were fired in different Catalan cities, and during the second, 120. The injured girl is 19 years old and today will undergo surgery at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona.

In the riots last night there were 135 burned containers in cities like Barcelona, Girona and Lleida, and also nine burned vehicles. In total, the emergency services attended 14 injured people, eight of whom are agents of the Mossos d'Esquadra, according to the balance that the police force has presented.

The director general of the police today insisted that "extreme and gratuitous" violence has been detected in the riots. "People who lawfully want to demonstrate and groups of violent people who use the demonstrations to damage street furniture and attack police officers are both on the streets". This second group, he pointed out, is already taking to the streets "with the aim of destroying the city". The body, in fact, says that there is a profile considered "opportunistic", which is alien to the motives of the protest, and that takes advantage of the fact that there are many people in the street to loot shops, cause damage to property and attack police officers, and attributes this situation of "extreme" violence that is being experienced these nights partly to the context of "fatigue" due to the pandemic.

Attacks on shops

In Barcelona the march started in the Jardinets de Gràcia - the Guardia Urbana estimated that 2,200 people had gathered - and went down Passeig de Gràcia without incidents. The tension began when the demonstration reached Plaça Urquinaona and some participants began to move containers and fences. According to police, eight motorcycles and 84 containers were burned, and establishments such as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and a car dealership in the Eixample were also attacked. The Mossos arrested 12 people in the city, there were ten injured people attended by the Medical Emergency System (SEM) - four of whom are police officers - and there was damage to 11 premises. The police prevented the protesters from entering the Stock Exchange building. According to the body, the protesters responded with "a lot of violence" to the preventive intervention of the police.

In Lleida, where police motorcycles were burned on the first night of riots, yesterday 40 containers and a vehicle were burned, and an officer was injured. The police made 14 arrests in the municipality and required the collaboration of riot police of the National Police to protect the Subdelegation of the Spanish government. In this case, the march reached the Ponent prison, where Hasel is behind bars since Tuesday. In Girona, where containers were also burned and objects were thrown against the police line once the demonstration for freedom of expression was called off, five people were arrested. And in Tarragona two more people were arrested after protesters tried to access the A-7, which was cut.

The Mossos have denied that they are using the technique of the carousel, which consists of circulating the vans quickly to disperse the demonstrators, although this is what they seemed to be doing at points like the Plaça Urquinaona in Barcelona when the tensions began.

In the face of possible new mobilizations that end with riots, those responsible for Mossos ensure that they will return to place troops in places considered "strategic".

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