• Alternative Labour Day march spawns occupation of historic ‘Llotja’ building
• Protesters demand building be used to shelter Mid-East refugees and migrants
Demonstrators followed up a far-left alternative Labour Day march in Barcelona on Sunday with the takeover of an abandoned historic building that once housed Europe’s oldest art school, demanding the city government turn it into a shelter for refugees and migrants fleeing violence in the Middle East and North Africa.
From the balconies of the 133-year-old, neo-classical building popularly known as the ‘Llotja’, demonstrators displaying a banner that reads “Tourist go home; migrants welcome” and others including anarchist symbols are said to be part of Barcelona’s ultra-left ‘okupa’ movement, which for more than a decade has staged takeovers of abandoned private and public buildings in order to draw attention to a variety of social and political issues, including lack of affordable housing, evictions, government spending cuts and now, refugees.
The May 1st march that spawned the takeover was called by far-left organizations associated with Barcelona’s anti-capitalist movement, including the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular party (CUP, or Popular Unity Candidacy) that forms part of the governing coalition in the Catalan parliament, the Arran youth organization of the Catalan Pro-Independence Left and the radical SEPC university student union.
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