• February 1, 2023

Violence Erupts In Barcelona, Spain, On 5th Night Of Protests : NPR

Protesters clash with Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police, after a demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday against the imprisonment of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel. Josep Lago / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption

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Josep Lago / AFP via Getty Images

Protesters clash with Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police, after a demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday against the imprisonment of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel.

Josep Lago / AFP via Getty Images

A fifth night of protests in Barcelona against the arrest of a rapper convicted of criticizing the country’s monarchy and glorifying a separatist group turned violent on Saturday as protesters threw objects at police, set fires, and looted and destroyed many luxury stores.

Police arrested Pablo Hasél last Tuesday for a 2018 Sentenced under the Spanish Public Security Law, which forbids the glorification of terrorist groups and insults against the Spanish monarchy. Authorities cite politically inflammatory texts and social media posts for indicting Hasél, but his arrest immediately sparked days of protest and sparked a debate over freedom of expression.

Thousands took to the streets on Saturday evening to protest Hasél’s conviction and nine-month prison sentence. At one point, protesters threw projectiles and torches at the police, who fired foam balls to break up the crowd.

Shops in the city’s Tony shopping district, Passeig de Gràcia, have been ransacked and ravaged. Videos and photos Windows along the avenue smashed by the night show and groups running through at least one boutique, wiping items off the shelves.

The windows of the city’s Palau de la Música concert hall were also broken. Reuters reportsciting a local newspaper. Videos and pictures show burning objects.

Police say Barricades and motorcycles were also set on fire.

Spain continues to oppose rappers being arrested for tweets

At least 31 people were arrested in Barcelona The Catalan regional police reported looting and public unrest on Twitter. Two others were also arrested in the city of Tarragona and one in Lleida, police said.

According to Reuters, nine people were injured and two of them were taken to hospital.

Reuters also reports that a demonstration in Madrid remained peaceful. About 400 people gathered in the Spanish capital and sang “Free Pablo Hasél!” under heavy police presence, The Guardian reports.

Reuters notes that police have brought charges against protesters in the city of Pamplona.

Violence broke out during the demonstrations sparked by Hasél’s arrest last Tuesday. Riot police reportedly stormed a building at Lleida University where Hasél and supporters had barricaded themselves after Hasél missed a deadline to report.

On Saturday before, Cristina Narbona, president of the country’s Socialist Party, condemned the violence that had erupted over the last four nights of the protests.

“We reiterate our strongest condemnation of violence that cannot be justified in defense of freedom of expression,” Narbona said, according to Reuters.

Numerous people have been arrested across the region since the protests began. A woman reportedly lost an eye in clashes in Barcelona and urged several politicians to call for an investigation into police tactics.

The demand for Hasél’s release has grown to include prominent Spanish artists and celebrities. The film director Pedro Almodóvar and the actor Javier Bardem have signed a petition for his release.

Amnesty International has also defended Hasél, whose online statements, authorities say, criticized the Spanish kings and supported ETA, which led a bloody decades-long campaign for independence. The Basque separatist group officially disbanded in 2018.

Hasél’s supporters have described the 2015 security law as a “gag” rule that restricted his freedom of expression. The Spanish Ministry of Justice recently announced plans to reform the law aimed only at measures that encourage violence. However, it is unclear what impact this could have on Hasel’s case.

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