Angry protesters have now gathered for five consecutive nights in several Spanish cities, demonstrating over the dramatic arrest earlier in the week of rapper Pablo Hasel.
Thousands, including families and elderly demonstrators, gathered in Barcelona on Saturday at the Plaça Universitat in the capital, where a rally started peacefully.
Police started beating protesters after passing through another square, named Plaça Urquinaona, Berta Galofré Pons, a 23-year-old political scientist, told CNN. Footage from Saturday’s Barcelona demonstrations reveals numerous scuffles between protesters and police.
The Catalan police force, Mossos d’Esquadra, said in a tweet that the protests were redirected and that a group of protesters split from the main crowd, attacking the Barcelona stock exchange before vandalizing and looting shops.
Until firefighters arrived on the scene, this gang burned bikes and erected barricades, police said.
On Saturday, Mossos detained 34 people, bringing the total close to 100 for the week. After Catalan riot police raided Lledia University near Barcelona, where the rapper and his supporters had barricaded themselves in, Hasel was arrested on Tuesday.
The arrest video shows the defiant rapper screaming “You will never defeat
us! You will never overcome us, we will resist until we are victorious.”
After Spain’s Supreme Court in May last year upheld a lower court verdict in March 2018 against the rapper, whose full name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro, Hasel had until February 12 to hand himself in to the police.
According to a copy of the court’s sentence and a Supreme Court press office release, the conviction was for promoting terrorism, and also for libel and defamation against the Spanish monarchy, via his social media posts.
He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment in prison.
Last week, the Spanish government declared that it will abolish jail sentences for offenses involving freedom of speech, although it is not clear when the reforms will be made.
The Twitter account of Hasel has been quiet after it was posted on Tuesday that he will be imminently imprisoned.
?”How can you put someone in prison for expressing their ideas?”
I don’t agree with looting, and there are people who are still going to take advantage of social movements and create chaos.
“The protests were peaceful until the police intervened.”
Demonstrations were passive and without incident in Ms Galofré’s hometown of Sabadell, a city north of Barcelona, she added.
A much smaller rally was held in Madrid, the Spanish capital, where about 100 people chanted for the liberation of Mr. Hasel.