Huge crowds turn out in Barcelona for pro-independence march
40,000 protesters take part in rally against the Spanish government cabinet meeting in the city
Some 40,000 protesters joined a pro-independence rally in Barcelona on Friday to protest against a Spanish government cabinet meeting held in the city earlier in the day.
"Tombem el règim" (Let's overturn the regime) was the slogan on the banner at the front of the rally organized by the Comissió 21-D pro-independence platform, which includes a range of political parties and pressure groups.
It had been a day of protests in Barcelona -and Catalonia in general- as pro-independence supporters showed their displeasure at the visit to the Catalan capital by Spanish ministers, and which resulted in a dozen arrests and scores needing medical attention.
The demonstration began just after 6pm, making its way down the Passeig de Gràcia boulevard towards the city center. Thousands of people also lined the boulevard, many wearing high-visibility waistcoats, reminiscent of the 'yellow vest' protesters in France.
At the same time, another demonstration organized by pro-independence groups was taking place in the northern regional capital of Girona outside the Spanish government office there. Protesters also gathered in numbers in the provincial cities of Lleida and Tarragona.
In Barcelona, the large crowds that had turned out for the demonstration meant that the progress of the march was extremely slow. As the protesters made their way towards the center, shouts of “independence” and "free the political prisoners" could be heard.
Just before 7pm, the head of the demonstration got to the junction of Passeig de Gràcia and the Gran Via avenue, where a stage had been set up ready for the speeches by various political leaders. Thousands of people, however, were still moving down the boulevard.
Pro-independence organizations at the 21-D Commission have announced new protests to “restore” Catalan sovereignty. They said that the independence movement cannot be “only in politicians’ hands” and made a call to defy the central government.
“There are enough reasons to overthrow the 78's regime,” claimed actress and commission spokesperson Sílvia Bel. She argued that Catalan institutions are currently powerless and denounced Madrid's threats to impose direct rule on Catalonia.
Meanwhile, in a different part of Barcelona, a rally called by a far-right organization took place. Following a banner that insisted being Catalan meant being Spanish, around a hundred protesters blocked traffic on the Via Augusta avenue as they moved towards the center.