Spain: new clashes in Barcelona to protest against the arrest of a rapper

BARCELONA | Police van set on fire, garbage cans on fire and looting: eleven days after the arrest in Spain of rapper Pablo Hasél, the demonstrations were not weakening in Barcelona, ​​and a new rally degenerated on Saturday into clashes with the police.

• Read also: Spain: controversial arrest of rapper convicted of tweets

The demonstration, whose slogan was “Lluitar, crear poder popular” (“fight, create popular power” in Catalan), was held in particular in support of the rapper condemned and imprisoned for tweets attacking the monarchy and the forces of order, but generally carried other social demands.

Several hundred participants marched behind a large banner announcing “Until they fall.” Nothing to lose. Everything to gain, ”according to an AFP journalist.

“Pablo’s case just reveals that we live in a fascist state […], that we have to fight and that this is a violation of fundamental rights, ”Adria, a 26-year-old musician who came to demonstrate and refused to give his last name, told AFP .

“Who am I to judge what he puts in his words?” But that they condemn him for it seems to me an attack on freedom of expression, ”said Barbar Salazar, a 36-year-old doctor.

The rally degenerated in the early evening, giving rise to acts of vandalism and the looting of bank branches, one of which was set on fire.

Broken windows, tagged facades and Molotov cocktail throws, one of which burned a police van, several “hooded rioters” attacked, according to several tweets from the Catalan police, “businesses and in particular banks”. Police confirmed that one of his vehicles had been burnt, as were many garbage cans or containers.

At least ten people have been arrested during the clashes, Catalan police said on Twitter, one of whom is “involved in the fire of the van”.

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, judged, in a tweet, “unacceptable the acts of vandalism and violence which shook Barcelona last night”, giving all his “support” to the police.

Since mid-February, more than 110 protesters have been arrested in this northeastern region, police said.

Pablo Hasél, 32, was sentenced to nine months in prison for apologizing for terrorism, for treating King Juan Carlos Ier of “mafiosi”, praised people involved in attacks and accused the police of having killed and tortured migrants and demonstrators.

His arrest on February 16 in rather spectacular circumstances at the University of Lleida, where he was barricaded with sympathizers wanting to prevent his arrest, led to protests marked by incidents in several other cities in Spain such as Madrid, Valencia and Grenada.

In Barcelona, ​​where this social rebellion is most marked, violent demonstrations come almost daily to denounce the youth unemployment rate, a record within the European Union (40.2%), precariousness, or even the increase in rents.

The imprisonment of Pablo Hasél also revived the debate on freedom of expression in Spain and reinforced the differences within the government coalition between the socialists of President Pedro Sanchez and the Podemos party (radical left) which supports the demonstrations.

Janelle B. Smith

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