Over 330 people have been injured so far in the clashes that broke out due to the banned Catalan independence referendum. According to reports, police officers used rubber bullets in order to disperse the pro-referendum protesters. Most of those who were injured are minors.
Police forces raided one of the schools in Barcelona that was being used as an improvised polling station for the Catalan independence referendum, which was deemed illegal by the Spanish government. In footage from the scene, the officers are seen forcefully removing the protesters who had barricaded themselves inside the school. “We are people of peace, we aren’t afraid,” shouted the voters, who had to deal with the police brutality that included pushing, kicking, hitting and even rubber bullets.
Clashes erupted quickly Sunday morning as Catalans tried to prevent the police officers from disrupting the voting. The officers and members of Spain’s Civil Guard took over some of the polling stations after the voters tried to stop them by blocking the entrances with bags of cement. Outside of the voting stations, the officers used rubber bullets and clubs in order to disperse the protesters.
Barcelona, today Photo Credit: Sky News/Channel 2 News
“Grandfathers, grandmothers, children, women- everyone is crying, everyone is suffering and why?” asked Ernesto, a protester in Barcelona. “Just because they wanted to vote? Because they want democracy? They are being punched just because they are demanding their rights.” Madrid is stressing that the vote was not only deemed illegal by the government but also labeled as unconstitutional by Spain’s highest court.
Regional leader Carles Puigdemont accused the Spanish authorities of an excessive use of violence. “This is unjustified, disproportionate and irresponsible violence,” he said. According to the Catalan emergency services, 337 people were injured during the clashes and received medical treatment. Most of them are minors who sustained light injuries caused by the police forces’ actions.