A protest against police repression called by the Catalan pro-independence groups the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs) this Saturday evening has attracted about 10,000 people to Barcelona's Via Laietana, the location of the central Spanish National Police station in the Catalan capital. The organizers had announced that they wanted to give the police back the rubber balls that were fired at them - as anti-riot projectiles - in last week's protests and incidents. Via Laietana filled up with protesters for a stretch of about 200 metres from Plaça Urquinaona to the headquarters of the Spanish police force.
At 8.50pm, there were only about 5 metres separating the first rows of protesters outside the police station and the Spanish riot squad members who were guarding the building, and protesters began knocking over the barriers that maintained the gap. The situation then became complicated with the throwing of objects and the Catalan Mossos riot police took action, advancing and firing foam projectiles, and eventually causing protesters to retreat up the street towards Plaça Urquinaona. By about 9.30pm a tense calm had returned, with a dozen Mossos police vans stationed in Via Laietana and the mass of protesters maintaining their position in the upper part of the street, with virtually no separation from the vans.
Earlier, due to the great influx of protesters, mostly young people, several Spanish police vans were surrounded in Via Laietana. In some of them Spanish flags could be seen, fixed on the inside of windows. Finally, a group of riot police from the Catalan Mossos opened a way so that these vans could be removed, and they entered the nearby side street of Carrer Comtal, without any police charges taking place. The situation, however, caused visible tension.
Groups of demonstrators then launched the rubber balls they had brought, as well as some drink cans, in the direction of the police station. Minutes later the throwing of rubber balls, as well as some eggs, became widespread. A small group of protesters tried to open the door of one of the National Police vans parked in Carrer Comtal, and painted a Catalan estelada independence symbol, as well as a hammer and sickle, on the bodywork. Later the van was removed.
The protesters chanted slogans such as "Out with the forces of occupation" "October 1st, neither forget nor forgive", "You fascists are the terrorists" and "Antifascist Catalonia."
The rally was set to begin at 7.30pm, about an hour after the earlier huge march for "Liberty" in Carrer Marina had concluded. When the first protesters began to arrive at Via Laietana, Spanish police officers searched people's bags. More than twenty National Police vans and also some from the Mossos d'Esquadra monitored the growing protest initially, but after a few minutes the Catalan police left the area. There was no police cordon in front of the police station.
In the area of the police station, there were no trash containers, and the residents' garbage was left on the ground. Some shops had lowered their roller blinds, in order to be half or fully closed.
Medical volunteers also made an appearance and received great applause from those present.