Independence supporters protest on anniversary of Spanish police raids to halt referendum
Judicial case against Catalan leaders is "farce" says president Quim Torra
Hundreds of pro-independence supporters have taken to the streets in force in Barcelona, on the anniversary of the first Spanish police raids on government buildings and arrests in order to halt the referendum.
People gathered outside the Ministry of Economy on Thursday evening, commemorating what happened last September 20, in a protest called by grassroots organizations Òmnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) under the slogan "they won't stop us."
Demonstrators called for the release of "political prisoners." As president Quim Torra arrived at the protest to address the crowds, he was met by shouts of "not one step backward!"
Torra expressed his appreciation to the former head of ANC Jordi Sànchez, and the president of Òmnium, Jordi Cuixart. Both have been in pre-trial jail for nearly a year.
"They should be here in this celebration of the first anniversary of when Catalans took to the streets to defend government institutions," he said.
With the October 1 referendum still over a week away, September 20 last year turned out to be one of the most crucial days for Catalonia’s push for independence: Spain launched the first major police operation aimed at disrupting the vote, and pro-independence supporters responded by taking to the streets en masse. For unionist parties, it was the beginning of a crackdown on a movement they would come to deem as "violent."
While the Spanish authorities would fail to prevent the vote, which was deemed illegal, the events on that September day led to the incarceration of several pro-independence leaders, including activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. They were key to organizing protests before the Ministry of Economy to hinder the raids - with around 40,000 people attending, according to police figures.
"We are with them," Torra said, referring to Cuixart and Sànchez. "What happened to the Jordis is worse than what we have had to bear throughout this year," he added.
The judicial case "against the independence movement" is "a farce" he also stated.