Community center fire was ‘fascist attack’
After the building was set ablaze, members found nazi and fascist symbols inside
The Ateneu Popular de Sarrià, a community center in Barcelona, was burned down on Thursday following a blaze that members deem as a “fascist attack." The Catalan police confirm that the blaze was no accident, stating that “everything points to it having been arson.”
While authorities have yet to confirm what caused the fire, the Ateneu community organization has denounced it as a “fascist attack” on social media. Along with detailing “nazi and Francoist symbols” they found spraypainted inside the center, they document another message (pictured below). On the wall, it reads “You’re dead, CDR.”
CDR stands for Committees for the Defense of the Republic, a pro-independence network of local assemblies both in Catalonia and abroad. Often present at pro-independence rallies, the committee has recently made headlines for blocking main highways in the country to protest the detention of deposed president Carles Puigdemont.
Ateneu members also criticized local authorities for not having acted against the previous “fascist attacks” they’ve suffered in recent months, experienced by leftist and pro-independence neighborhood organizations. Ateneus, roughly translated as "community centers," have a long history of being social forums and meeting places in Catalonia, often associated with activism. This particular space belongs to the Barcelona City Council, and has been squatted by the local Ateneu since 2015.
The local councilor for the Barcelona Sarrià-Sant-Gervasi district, Jaume Asens, explained that the City Hall is "worried" for the slew of attacks in the last months that "fracture coexistence" and generate a feeling of "social alarm" in neighborhoods. Inasmuch, Asens assured that he has urged the local police to "fully" investigate the fire, so it is not "without consequences," additionally denouncing hate crimes.
As for the community center building, the Ateneu explained that now it’s “beyond repair.”According to sources, the fire was called in at 3:45am on Thursday morning, when five teams of firefighters were dispatched to the building, effectively extinguishing the fire at 7:49am. The structure has suffered significant damage, but nobody was hurt.