Schools and universities in Catalonia were shut down Tuesday in condemnation of the police’s violent response to a referendum on independence from Spain.

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Catalans announced a general strike Tuesday following police violence during a referendum on independence. Residents of Barcelona who were beaten by police officers on their way to the ballots say they will continue to fight for independence from Spain.

According to reports, officers violently pushed people away from polling stations, dragged them by the hair and hit them with truncheons. The referendum, in which 90% reportedly voted in favor of independence for Catalonia, was ruled unconstitutional by Spanish courts.

Photo credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Salvador Pont, 42, an attorney from Barcelona, told Channel 2 News that police’s response to the vote was “the worst mistake Spain could do.”

“Right now, what we need between Catalonia and Spain is words, good manners and compassion,” he said. “The police, and those who ordered them to act this way, have only made the division deeper.”

Patricia, 38, was one of the voters who were attacked by police. “I could see people running, crying, it was horrible,” she said. “I think in the future we’ll have to build an independent state without these kinds of situations.”

Carlota, 27, a journalist from Barcelona, said she felt ashamed of her country after the referendum was banned. “Everyone has the right to express themselves,” she said. “After all that police did to our people in Catalonia, I don’t think things are going to get better.”