Large numbers of Barcelona's pots and pans have been given an exhaustive, metallic banging this Sunday night, in a protest aimed at Spanish king Felipe VI on the city's Avinguda Diagonal, which was blocked in both directions for two hours. A pot-bashing demonstration called by a total of five different pro-independence groups brought around two thousand people to the doors of the Hotel Juan Carlos I - not far from the Palau de Congressos conference centre - where, according to some sources, the Spanish royal family will spend Sunday night before officiating at tomorrow's ceremony for the Princesa de Girona awards. In the midst of extraordinary secrecy, there was no official confirmation that Felipe had arrived, but this certainly didn't inhibit the protesters.
The Spanish king's visit to Barcelona, shortly after the court decision sentencing nine pro-independence leaders to long jail terms, was interpreted by independence supporters as "a provocation" and, with multiple protests called in rejection of his appearance in Catalonia, the Spanish National police deployed strong security measures on Barcelona's Avinguda Diagonal traffic artery, even with 24 hours to go until the royal visit was "officially" due to start.
The area was heavily protest-proofed by Sunday afternoon: the lateral lanes of the Diagonal blocked with barrier fences and surrounded by Mossos d'Esquadra vans, with a police helicopter hovering over the area.
Protesters chanted slogans against the Bourbon king, banged pots, and held up anti-monarchic banners and pro-independence estelada flags.
One of those present at the protest was Roger Español, who lost sight in one eye due to a rubber bullet fired by Spanish police on the 2017 referendum day. He is standing as a JxCat party candidate for the Senate in next weekend's election.
Spanish police officers guarded the Palau de Congressos throughout the afternoon, and entry checks were multiplied in the hotel's accesses. Vehicle access to the Avinguda Diagonal had also been very difficult since midday, with the traffic artery closed from the end of the C-31. The B-23 highway was also cut in the expectation that the royal party would eventually go by. All traffic trying to enter Barcelona via one of its major access routes was being diverted by the Mossos police into the suburb of Esplugues.
The Mossos also evacuated a pro-monarchy group with Spanish flags which had become isolated between the CDR protesters opposite the conference centre. There were no incidents.
Previously, around 500 people had marched from the on-going protest camp at Plaça de la Universitat to join the protest. A column of the young people who have been camping in the central city square for the last four nights arrived at the Diagonal protest with a banner that read 'The struggle of youth, the future of our people'. Some wore frontal torches and brought tents with the intention of spending the night.
The CDRs, Picnic for the Republic, Arran, Anonymous Catalunya, Generation 14th October, and Plaça Universitat protest camp group had all called for people to take part in actions against the visit of Felipe VI. Tonight's pots and pans banging session was the first movement in a protest symphony that will continue on Monday.