Read in Catalan

About two hundred people held a sit-in this Sunday morning in the lobby of Barcelona-Sants train station, key transport of the Catalan capital city, in a protest called by non-violent platform Picnic for the Republic, the day before the Spanish Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict in the trial of 12 Catalan pro-independence leaders. It was a small foretaste of what might lie ahead, with several civil disobedience platforms having emerged in Catalonia in recent weeks planning to take non-violent action in response to the court decisions and the repression of Catalan independence aspirations.

At Sants rail station, the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police, who had tried to prevent the gathering, closed off the lobby once it began to prevent further protesters from joining the "Picnic". This did not prevent a sit-in dominated by chants of "Freedom political prisoners" and "Independence".

manifestant picnic republica mossos sants - maria macia

Subsequently, Mossos officers began removing protesters one by one. Some refused to move under their own volition and the police dragged them along the ground until they left. Among the Picnickers expelled from the station was the economist and former Catalan deputy, Germà Bel.

After more than an hour of occupying the lobby, the remaining "Picnickers" stood up and left en masse, with their hands raised. Once outside, they joined others who had not been able to enter. In total, more than a thousand people were now gathered outside Sants station.

picnic per la republica sants - maria macia

After spending some time outside the station, the demonstration then marched to the key city roundabout of Plaça Espanya, cutting the traffic. The group then proceeded along the central traffic lanes of another key artery, Gran Via, towards the centre of Barcelona, as far as Passeig de Gràcia, where the organizers officially called an end to the action.

Some of the protesters then continued to the Spanish National Police building in Via Laietana, with no further incidents.
picnic republica gran via tallada - sergi maraña
manifestacio via laietana picnic republica - sergi maraña

Sergi Maraña

In front of the Spanish National Police station, marchers began whistling and chanting "Out with the forces of occupation", "This building will be a library," "The police torture and murder," and they also sang the Catalan anthem, Els Segadors, before the march dispersed.

"We call it a "Picnic"; it's a sit-in, but we use the name humorously, as humour is not at odds with doing serious things," explained Quim, a Picnic for the Republic organizer, to The objective is to carry out actions "which are non-violent, but which are disruptive" - including sit-ins, marches and demonstrations, but also cutting roads.

"Any mass non-violent action helps," he asserted, while declaring that in the response to the court verdicts there must be actions for "all types of people", both the "lilies" and the "thorny roses." He insists that violence will never be the way, since that would make the movement lose support, especially if it were against people. But he also warns that independence is not going to be won "from the sofa."