Sánchez visits Barcelona after week of violent unrest

Pedro Sánchez visits National Police headquarters during visit to Barcelona Monday. Photo: Reuters / El País
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► Sanchez offered moral support to police, visited injured officers in hospital
► 600 injured in violence, incl. 288 police, w/ €2.5 million in property damage

Spain’s acting President Pedro Sánchez made an unscheduled visit to Barcelona Monday after nearly a week of violent protests in the city, offering moral support to police and visiting police officers hospitalized from injuries sustained during the protests.

Sánchez did not meet during the visit with Catalan regional President Quim Torra, to whom he sent a letter calling on the pro-independence Catalan leader to specifically reject the violence that occurred in the protests in Barcelona before any discussions could take place between the two leaders. Torra has refused to specifically condemn the last week’s violence in the city, saying generally that he has always been opposed to the use of violence and believes only in peaceful protest.

The last week of violent unrest erupted in Barcelona following the Spanish Supreme Court’s conviction and sentencing of nine Catalan pro-independence leaders last Monday on charges of sedition, misuse of public funds and disobedience of court orders related to events surrounding an illegal October 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia.

► News Sources in Spanish: El País, El Periódico and La Vanguardia …

Sánchez was booed and heckled by some staff and bystanders upon leaving a hospital where officers were recovering from injuries sustained in the running street battles between well-organized bands of hooded violent protesters and police on previous nights. He later visited the headquarters of the National Police on Via Laetana in Barcelona, a target of the protesters and just down the block from the Plaza Urquinaona scene of some of the fiercest battles between police and violent protesters at the weekend.

In his meeting with the National Police, Sánchez warned that the campaign of violence by protesters is not yet over. “They will probably persist in order to make this an ongoing crisis, but we will be much more persistent,” he said.

Authorities say that 600 hundred people were injured, including 288 officers of the various police forces that were trying to quell the violence initiated by hooded and masked protesters. One officer remains in critical but stable condition after being hit in the head by a large rock hurled by a protester.

During successive nights of riotous scenes on Barcelona streets that included looting of several retail stores, the organized bands of protesters burnt hundreds of large trash and recycling containers, erected barricades using furniture, street signs, parking barriers and other materials, and hurled molotov cocktails, rocks, paving stones and other projectiles at officers in various locations over five successive nights.

Police detained 194 individuals during the violence, with charges filed against more than 100 protesters and 28 jailed, 10 of whom are still in custody on a judge’s orders. Civic authorities estimate the total damages caused by the violent unrest at more than 2.5 million euros.

► Read More in English at El País and The Financial Times …

► Click to read more news about Catalonia …

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