Sixth night of protests in solidarity with jailed rapper Pablo Hasel
Demonstrations this week have descended into violent clashes between protesters and police
The sixth night of protests against jailed rapper Pablo Hasel's imprisonment for glorifying terrorism and slander against the Spanish monarchy and institutions began on Sunday throughout Catalonia.
Demonstrators believe the musician's right to freedom of expression has been violated by sentencing him for the content of his songs and tweets. Other demands of the mainly young protesters include ending police violence as well as creating greater economic equity after a year of pandemic-related frustrations.
In Barcelona, a thousand people began to gather at 7 pm at the Sants train station, although protests have also been called in other cities and towns including Girona or Tortosa.
In the Catalan capital, people attempted to make their way down to Plaça Espanya, not far from the train station, but a line of police officers and vans barred their entry into the square, after which they started walking down the middle of Gran Via towards Plaça Universitat.
People then made their way down Via Laietana, where a Spanish police station is located, and began to throw objects such as stones and firecrackers at the officers surrounding the building. Officers have warned they will charge at protesters if they do not leave the area.
The Mossos d'Esquadra have arrested 7 people in Barcelona on Saturday night, five for looting and two others for public disorder.
21.47 h Grups violents estan fent actes vandàlics a la zona de Rambla Catalunya amb Consell de Cent. Per seguretat no us apropeu a aquesta zona. Fins el moment, detenim 7 persones, 5 per robatori a una botiga de roba i 2 per desordres públics pic.twitter.com/kX2aPKWFVq— Mossos (@mossos) February 21, 2021
Five nights of unrest
The protests held every night since Tuesday, when Pablo Hasel was arrested in Lleida, have followed a similar pattern by beginning non-violently before eventually descending into clashes between demonstrators and police officers.
Some protesters set dumpster barricades on fire, as well as a handful of cars and motorcycles, and thrown objects at the police who have responded by charging at them and firing foam bullet rounds. Dozens of people have been injured in these skirmishes, including a 19-year-old woman in Barcelona who lost an eye to a foam bullet, and many others have been arrested.
On Saturday night, a number of large chain stores on the Catalan capital's high-end Passeig de Gràcia shopping avenue were looted, such as Nike or Diesel, and some of the Palau de la Música concert hall's windows were broken by a few protesters who threw stones at the building. 35 people were arrested, most of them in Barcelona.
Who is Pablo Hasel?
Pablo Rivadulla Duró, or Pablo Hasel as he is more commonly known, is a rapper from the Catalan city of Lleida who was arrested on February 16 to serve time behind bars after being found guilty of glorifying terrorism and slander against the monarchy in his songs and tweets.
How long Hasel will end up spending in prison is not yet clear as he has other ongoing legal issues, but he has been sentenced to two years and nine months for the two separate cases for which he is currently in jail.
The rapper's imprisonment has reignited the debate on freedom of expression in Spain and its so-called 'gag law' as many of Hasel's sympathizers argue it is not enforced fairly.
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