"It's not just about Hasél, it's about healthcare, education, precariousness."
Sixth demonstration over rapper's incarceration brings together fewer people and causes less disturbances than the day before
BarcelonaA thousand people participated yesterday in the sixth night of protests against the arrest of Pablo Hasél, which, unlike the previous night, was much less tense and saw fewer disturbances. As curfew started, most demonstrators retreated. In the atmosphere there was a feeling that the punishment of the rapper was "the straw that broke the camel's back" of the frustration of a generation marked by unemployment, precariousness and lack of prospects. Still hungover from the destruction on Passeig de Gràcia, the protestors marched quite calmly through the stretch from Sants to the centre, although once again police charged and protestors threw objects. Yesterday at least 8 arrests were made.
A loudspeaker with a microphone was used by the demonstrators to express their rage at the beginning of the rally in Sants station protected by a strong police presence. There they played songs by Hasél, and already in the Via Laietana some protestors started to rap. "Some media say that we are not here for Hasél, and it is true that it is not only for that. We are here for public health, education and freedom of expression," said one of the young people who took the microphone. "I have come here to free Hasel and to put an end to this monarchy," shouted a young woman. "We are fed up with evictions," added another boy, adding to the list of grievances.
Arnau, a 25-year-old language student, explained the problems of finding a job to pay the rent while studying in Barcelona. "University classes are getting worse with covid, we have 40% youth unemployment and journalism is very manipulative," he complained. Despite dissociating himself from the looting and stone throwing, Arnau, like other young people interviewed, was partly sympathetic. "They say it's young people in social exclusion, who have nothing to do with the march, who are doing this. But what the banks, corrupt politicians and tax evasion are doing is much worse; I don't feel sorry for a multinational store that makes a loss and immediately recovers it," he added.
Criticism of the looting was a constant among some demonstrators, while others - very young and even minors - threw glass bottles and stones at the National Police officers on the Via Laietana. A group denied having done so in a conversation with this newspaper, but did so with laughter and sarcasm. One of them did acknowledge that on Saturday he was carrying "a backpack full of clothes" from one of the looted stores. "It's that the system makes no sense, it's all corrupt, and so are we, of course," he said.
A hundred meters away, oblivious to everything, a loudspeaker was used by other young people to rap. "You have taught us that peaceful protest is useless," read the banner at the head of the demonstration. "This is the real protest, not the stones," said one of the rappers, who preferred not to give his name, although he was sympathetic to the fact that "if you have to throw firecrackers or burn a container to make noise, it's also okay", since he maintains that "when the state is violent, you have to defend yourself".
A day after the Catalan police' -known as Mossos d'Esquadra- kettled protestors and charged against them, trapping young demonstrators in Gran de Gràcia, the demonstration was also protesting against the police corps. "You can see from afar who comes to mess it up and who comes to demonstrate, like us, but young people are criminalised when the state uses the monopoly of violence to hurt us," said Aina, 19 years old. "If they hit you, you have to hit back," defended Nora, next to her, critical of the looting.
Among those who defend direct action, they distinguish between chaotic violence and strategic self-defence. This is the case of Marc, 24, who has studied political science and is now a sound technician with few job prospects. "These looters are quite far from the protests, but the barricades serve to prevent the police from attacking us. Without them down there, maybe we wouldn't be able to do this interview," he said in Plaça Catalunya as the Mossos advanced along the Ronda Sant Pere.
Although he doesn't take part in it, he says that throwing objects at the police "is a way of protesting", because everyone has their own weapons, and notes that "they don't loot small shops but big multinationals that generate our precariousness". Precariousness is the argument on the lips of many: "This is what has brought me here," reflects Marc, who argues that "the protests have nothing to do with independence, which cut across different sections of society, but are generational". "We lack organisation and we will end up having it because we are the generation of social networks," he adds.