Protests in Catalonia continue into fourth day - live updates

Political anger as neo-nazis march through Barcelona on another night of violence and chaos

Pro-independence student protesters block the motorway near Tarragona on October 17, 2019 (by Mar Rovira)
Pro-independence student protesters block the motorway near Tarragona on October 17, 2019 (by Mar Rovira) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 17, 2019 01:01 PM

Thursday brought a fourth day of protests around Catalonia against the Supreme Court verdict sentencing 9 pro-independence leaders to up to 13 years for sedition, as the pro-independence marches across the country continued for a second day, a number of roads were blocked, and students carried out another day of strikes and demonstrations.

The Committees in Defense of the Republic (CDR) group held a protest on Passeig de Gràcia, drawing 13,000 people according to local police. There, they called for a "festive" atmosphere, and many people brought footballs, rugby balls, and beach balls to halt one of the otherwise busiest streets in the Catalan capital.

In Plaça Artós, in the neighbourhood of Sarrià, a group of far-right neo-nazis convened and were met with an anti-fascist counter-demonstration. Later, the group of around 300 neo-nazis marched through Barcelona, headed for the area of Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla Catalunya, where the CDR demonstration was taking place. 

Some violent altercations took place between the antagonizing groups, leading to Parliament speaker Roger Torrent to demand accountability for how the group of far-right supporters were able to march freely through "half of the city" unaccompanied by police forces. The interior ministry defended the police operations of the night, saying they did not have enough forces to follow the neo-nazis while other simultaneous protests were taking place around the country. 

Later in the evening, a singular anti-fascist was beaten by a group of over a dozen neo-nazis in Barcelona city center, and another video of a neo-nazi, who had been carrying a large knife, being beaten by a group of anti-fascists emerged on social media. 

Throughout the night, various clashes continued to take place between police and protesters in Barcelona, Girona, and Tarragona, with police firing rubber bullets and using tear gas, while demonstrators threw objects at police.

Newspaper La Vanguardia report that the riots descended into looting in the center of Barcelona, with a bank and a clothing store being broken into.

At least four people were arrested in Tarragona for clashes with police, while a further two were arrested in Lleida for carrying stones in backpacks, accused of offenses against public order. At around 01:45 local time, Catalan police confirmed at least 11 people had been arrested throughout the country after the night's disturbances.

Earlier in the day, thousands of independence supporters continued the Marches for Freedom, with five columns of demonstrators setting out from different Catalan towns on their way towards Barcelona, bringing traffic to a halt on some major highways.

These disruptions have led Catalonia's largest factory, the SEAT car-manufacturing plant in Martorell, to announce it will shut down production on Thursday and Friday as it cannot guarantee the arrival of workers and materials. 

Meanwhile, some of Barcelona's main avenues in the city center were also closed after another night of unrest in the Catalan capital in which some 400 rubbish containers were burnt, according to the city council.

Also in the Catalan capital, hundreds of university students blocked streets as they began congregating in the morning for a demonstration called at midday by a students' union in Plaça Universitat square.

In the northern capital of Girona, too, university and secondary school students demonstrated, with hundreds gathered in front of the Catalan government's headquarters in the city to condemn the jailing of Catalan leaders.