First night of occupied polling stations ends without incidents

Citizens have slept in centers and organized activities to guarantee that voting stations are not sealed off by police

People inside a school in Barcelona (by Pol Solà)
People inside a school in Barcelona (by Pol Solà) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 30, 2017 10:09 AM

The first of two nights of planned occupations of would-be polling stations ended on Saturday morning without incidents. Citizens stayed overnight in schools all around the country to make sure they remain opened until Sunday and are not sealed off by police. Some Catalan police officers visited occupied centers during Friday evening and the early hours of Saturday, but left soon afterwards.

Workshops, sports, board games, concerts, contests, storytelling, dancing, cinema, campouts, and reading sessions are some of the activities that parents’ associations or individuals have prepared for this weekend throughout Catalonia. Some schools have organized festivals to celebrate the beginning of the school year or the arrival of autumn. Every center is reacting differently; while some are open, other are currently staying closed.

The Mossos, the Catalan police, have been ordered by Spain’s Superior Court in Catalonia to prevent the referendum from taking place. Therefore, in the cases reported by ACN, law enforcement officers made sure that no activities related with the vote were taking place in the occupied centers, then they warned the people inside that they had to be out by Sunday at 6am, and then left. The prosecutor had ordered both Catalan and Spanish police corps to seal off all polling stations from Friday to Sunday, but the Superior Court overruled this decision and ordered the sites to be closed only on Sunday, for the election day.

In fact, 6 am on Sunday is when potential clashes between citizens staying in the polling stations and police might occur. However, the Catalan police have received orders not to respond violently to citizens protesting peacefully inside or outside polling stations and to always react proportionally, taking into account the possible presence of children or older people at the sit-ins. Officers have been asked to identify anyone still inside polling stations at 6 am on Sunday, while asking them to leave peacefully.

In some schools, imaginative solutions have already started to bypass possible police control. In Juneda, for example, citizens have removed the main door of the school that is expected to be used as a polling station on Sunday to keep it from being closed.