CDR pro-independence protest in Barcelona marks fourth anniversary of referendum

Hundreds demonstrate in Catalan capital and other cities to "liberate the land"

Pro-independence campaigners march down Diagonal avenue (by ACN)
Pro-independence campaigners march down Diagonal avenue (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 1, 2021 07:43 PM

Hundreds of people have gathered in Barcelona's Plaça Francesc Macià square slightly after 7 pm on Friday evening to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Catalan independence referendum deemed illegal by Spain.

Protesters marched down to the Plaça Urquinaona and Via Laietana area of the city center before breaking off into smaller groups that made their way back up through the Eixample neighborhood. 

The demonstration was organized by Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) activists known for their confrontational "direct action" tactics — burning dumpsters, throwing objects at officers, and cutting off major highways to traffic feature in their repertoire — to "liberate the land."

Largely peaceful, with demonstrators chanting slogans in favor of independence and waving flags, a few trash bins were set on fire at the top of Via Laietana. Police officers forced around 100 people who remained in the area to retreat. 

A number of other marches took place in other cities across Catalonia, such as in Girona, where over 500 people took to the streets. Images of police officers as well as of "traitorous" pro-independence party logos were set on fire.

Some 500 people gathered in the southern city of Tarragona outside one of the school-polling stations where police charged at voters four years ago. "We should be proud of this day and remember it," Rosa Maria Codines, the president of the Tarragona area chapter of Òmnium Cultural, told the press. 

The significance of October 1

October 1, 2017, is a key date in Catalan politics, particularly for the independence movement, which currently holds a majority of seats in Parliament. Around 2 million people went to the polls, while over a thousand voters were injured by the Spanish police officers who were sent in to seize the ballots that day.

The organizers of the plebiscite were either imprisoned or moved abroad to avoid prosecution following a proclamation of independence on October 27, 2017, while Madrid suspended Catalonia's self-rule.