Barcelona turned violent and was no fun for tourists on Friday threatened by more than 1/2 million protesters in the city. 50 flights at Barcelona’s main airport were canceled and local transport ran reduced services.
The 5th day of violent protests counted for 207 police officers injured since Monday, with 107 police vehicles damaged and 800 bins burned. 128 rioters were arrested and are facing 6 years in prison.
Closed for visitors was the Basílica de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Also known as the Sagrada Família, is a large unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica in Barcelona, Catalonia. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), his work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Barcelona was paralyzed Friday by a mix of strikes and marches as it faced its fifth day of protests over the conviction of independence leaders. The effects were felt in major tourism landmarks, including the Sagrada Familia which was forced to close its doors.
A pro-independence group is leveraging social media and peer-to-peer technology to orchestrate massive protests. The catch? No one knows who runs it.
Hundreds of protesters battled police in the heart of Barcelona on Friday, setting up fiery barricades and hurling rocks at security forces on the fifth day of unrest following the jailing of Catalan separatist leaders.
The violence followed a largely peaceful demonstration which drew more than half a million people onto the streets of the Catalan capital to denounce the lengthy jail terms that have sent a shockwave through Spanish politics.
As night fell, masked youths blocked a broad boulevard close to the city’s police headquarters, setting fire to large garbage bins and throwing a hail of stones, cans, and bottles towards massed lines of security forces in full riot gear.
Blazing obstacles and metal barriers were thrown up across other streets in one of Europe’s tourist hotspots and a branch of the Banco Santander bank was ransacked.
Officials said there were clashes in at least four other towns and cities in Catalonia, Spain’s wealthiest region in the far northeast of the country, as the pro-independence anger showed no sign of abating.
It is the worst such unrest Spain has seen in decades and the interior ministry sent police reinforcements to Barcelona to try to quell the escalating chaos.
The day started with hundreds of thousands of people from across the region pouring into Barcelona to protest against the verdict by Spain’s Supreme Court, which sentenced nine separatists to prison over a failed, 2017 secessionist bid.
Unions called a general strike and students boycotted classes for the third day running. Factories were closed.
Barcelona’s October 26 home match against Real Madrid, which is known as “el clasico” and is one of the biggest rivalries in world sport, was also postponed due to security concerns.
In an apparent effort to smother the unrest, a Spanish judge ordered the closure of a secretive Catalan protest group’s website on Friday.
However, as soon as its site was shuttered, the group, Democratic Tsunami, migrated its homepage to a new url, sidestepping the ruling.
Catalonia is a semi-autonomous region with 7.5 million-plus inhabitants who have their own language, parliament, and flag. Independence is a highly divisive issue, with a poll in July showing backing for secession in the region at its lowest level in two years, with 48.3% of people against and 44% in favor.