Sporadic clashes & unrest mar Catalonia’s independence vote anniversary rallies (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated throughout the Spanish northeastern region of Catalonia to mark one year since its attempt to push for independence from Spain. Some 180,000 people took part in the rallies in the regional capital of Barcelona alone, local media reported citing police estimates.
Crowds of students filled the city’s central square, waving the yellow, red and blue flags used by independence supporters. They chanted ‘1 October, no forgiving, no forgetting’ in an apparent reference to the last year referendum, which saw a massive brutal police crackdown. A group of protesters that gathered at the Square of Catalonia unfolded a large banner, which read “Self-determination is a human right” in English.
Mossos forced into whack-a-mole near Parlament in lower Eixample #Barcelona. ~40 ppl, young crowd, at cnr of San Pere / Girona. Police would try to clear area and move on, bins upended and metal grates dragged back onto road behind them. #Catalunya#1Octpic.twitter.com/UGTTQsjqs6— Juliette O'Brien (@juliette_io) October 1, 2018
A major demonstration was also held in the city starting at 18:30 local time (16:30 GMT). Crowds of people marched through Barcelona, from the Square of Catalonia to the regional parliament. People were waving Catalonian flags and chanting slogans: “Independence!” “Streets will always be ours!” “Freedom for political prisoners!” and “Without disobedience, there is no independence!”
The march was organized by a number of local groups and movements, including the ones commonly known as The Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). A large group of protesters gathered in front of the local police headquarters, demanding the resignation of the regional interior minister Miquel Buch. In another incident, demonstrators blocked the entrance to the Barcelona Stock Exchange. Some of them even attempted to chain themselves to the entrance doors, prompting police to intervene.
A group of violent youth also clashed with police outside the parliament after the march ended. Some 200 young people gathered in front of the building, chanting “Occupy the parliament!” and throwing eggs at the officers. The protesters also burned a Spanish flag and broke through the fences.
The police officers in riot gear used force to disperse the crowd that managed to get close to the parliament building. In a separate incident in the town of Girona, protesters stormed a government office and tore down the Spanish flag, replacing it with the Catalonian one.
Earlier, hundreds of people staged sit-in and briefly paralyzed traffic in some areas of the region. Catalonia has witnessed major protests for two days in a row. On Saturday, a demonstration in support of the Spanish national police saw dramatic scenes of clashes with counter-protesters, who threw paint at the police.
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