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A major police operation unfolded this morning in Barcelona's Carrer Lleida, in the Poble-sec district. What was it all about? A home eviction. From as early as 4:30am supporters gathered at the building to avoid the judicial action ordered by Barcelona Court of Instruction number 54. The protesters resisted and the Mossos d'Esquadra police force, including the controversial Brimo riot squad, responded with baton charges. In the front line, were several parliamentary deputies from the pro-independence CUP party: Dolors Sabater, Eulàlia Reguant, Carles Riera and Xavier Pellicer were among the demonstrators who faced off with the Brimo.

From six in the morning, protesters maintained active resistance against the police action. According to the Mossos, around seven o'clock the police force's mediation area arrived on the scene to attempt to convince the protesters to follow the police orders.

Protesters who gathered in front of the main door of the affected apartment block blocked access and threw red paint at police, who ended up charging at them.

Video: Guillem Ramos

The operation carried out by the Mossos d'Esquadra, whose goal was to evict three young people from the Llavors building in the Poble-sec district, has raised criticism due to both the use of force by the Brimo and the judicial order itself. The Barcelona-based Irídia Centre for the Defence of Human Rights protested on social media that there is currently moratorium on home evictions but "in spite of that" today's removal went ahead.

The acting Catalan interior minister, Miquel Sàmper, acknowledged in statements to Catalunya Ràdio that: "The action of the Mossos in the eviction of the Llavors block is my responsibility. We sent the riot squad because the protesters were preventing the arrival of the judicial entourage". However, he remarked that the decision to carry out an eviction is not a choice made by the Mossos but rather "it is a judge who orders it".

Protesters complained that police action was being carried out in collusion with Desokupa, a group that offers its services to property owners to evict tenants as an alternative to legal action.

A call to the new Catalan government

Amid chants of “murderers” and condemnations of the new Catalan government, protesters maintained their blockade on access to the building, throwing paint at the police. The demonstration had a notable critical tone against the new government of Pere Aragonès, both in the streets and on social media, in tweets using the hashtag #BenvingutAragones.

Video: Guillem Ramos

In fact, the "welcome" given this morning to the new Pere Aragonès government was not limited to the actions in Carrer Lleida. Members of Arran, youth organization close to the CUP, as well as members of the Housing Union, occupied the national headquarters of the governing ERC and reprimanded the new president for not acting to defend the right to decent housing. Protesters at the ERC headquarters on Carrer Calabria maintained that today's eviction is a violation of the agreement between ERC and CUP which allowed the current pro-independence government to form.

"Pere Aragonès", asks the tweet from Arran, "what happened to your speeches about social transformation and decent housing?" 

CUP seeks response from government 

This afternoon, CUP deputies addressed the new executive from the press room at Parliament. The message was clear. It is necessary, they said, to begin to practice "confrontation with the state apparatus." This was what CUP MP Laia Estrada said in reply to the argument of the new president, who explained that the Catalan interior minister has its hands tied because the court order explicitly instructed for the Mossos riot police to be sent. For the CUP, the case experienced today is a clear example of when "institutional and popular disobedience" can be combined. That is, Estrada demanded that the government side itself with the popular movement based on the right to housing, and turn a deaf ear to judicial instructions.

However, the CUP admits that the priority is to change the protocols. They also acknowledge that they are aware that the new government is not yet fully operational, so they avoided setting any specific deadline to begin certifying compliance with the points agreed. "The country is already waiting for answers," said Estrada.

Last week, as reported, it emerged that the Brimo, the Mossos d'Esquadra's mobile riot brigade, subject to heavy criticism for its actions in the policing of recent protests, among other issues, is likely to disappear as such in a forthcoming reorganization of the Mossos force.   


Main image: Four CUP MPs, face-to-face with the Mossos in an attempt to block a home eviction in the Poble-sec neighbourhood / Guillem Ramos

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