Thousands of people protest Guardia Civil raids
Citizens take to the streets in response to massive anti-referendum operation
Thousands of people have gathered outside the Department of Economy today in protest to Spanish police storming government buildings in an attempt to put a halt to the October 1 independence referendum.
The streets filled with angry chants as pro-independence supporters, many carrying Catalan flags, attempted to peacefully hinder Guardia Civil agents acting under the authority of Madrid's interior ministry.
“We will vote,” people shouted, “our weapons are our ballot boxes,” as well as the famous slogan from the civil war “they shall not pass.”
A large delegation of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) also approached the Ministry of Economy, including Spanish parliament MP Joan Tardà who called for protestors to remain peaceful.
“They want there to be violence,” he warned them, “and there will not be.”
Other high-profile Catalan politicians present were councilor Alfred Bosch, deputy Alba Vergés, MEP Ramon Tremosa, and spokesman to the Senate, Josep Lluís Cleries.
"They want there to be violence and there will not be"
Joan Tardà · Pro-independence Spanish parliament MP
The demonstration was called by the Catalan Assembly, the anti-capitalist party CUP, and the Catalan cultural organisation Omnium who took to Twitter asking for citizens to gather outside the Department of Economy after Spanish police raided Catalan government buildings.
“I think that is the beginning of a military occupation,” said one demonstrator. “We only want to vote and they send us military police.”
“It’s weird, because it’s a democracy, but they don’t let us vote, it’s controversial,” another said. “I really hope we can vote, and I hope it’s going to be soon.”
Up to 14 people have been arrested, including the chief aide to Catalonia's deputy prime minister Josep Maria Jové, the secretary of the treasury Lluís Salvadó, and other Catalan officials. Police officers also searched for any materials that could be related to the referendum and confiscated ballot papers during the operation.
At lunchtime, president Carles Puigdemont announced that the Spanish government had “de facto suspended” autonomy in Catalonia, declaring that the referendum would take place regardless.