Peaceful Barcelona rally for jailed rapper devolves into clashes

Several thousand took to the streets for a fifth straight day in Barcelona and elsewhere to protest in opposition to the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasel.

A fifth night time of peaceable protests to denounce the imprisonment of Spanish rap artist Pablo Hasel has as soon as extra devolved into clashes between police and the members of fringe teams who arrange road barricades and smashed storefront home windows in central Barcelona.

Small teams made up largely of younger folks started their nightly cat-and-mouse sport with officers on Saturday night, an hour after a number of thousand protesters gathered within the capital of the Catalonia area, which additionally was the place the worst violence passed off throughout earlier demonstrations this week.

On Saturday, rioters looted shops on Barcelona’s fundamental purchasing road after which threw stones after police in riot gear poured out of vans to have interaction them.

Hundreds additionally gathered in Spain’s capital, Madrid, and lots of extra marched within the northeast city of Lleida, the place Hasel was arrested on Tuesday and brought away to start serving a nine-month jail sentence for insulting the Spanish monarchy and allegedly glorifying “terrorism” in his music.

2021 02 20T200502Z 1998029245 RC2JWL9EHAVG RTRMADP 3 SPAIN RIGHTS RAPPER PROTESTSA demonstrator kicks a window of a store as supporters of arrested Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel protest in Barcelona, Spain, February 20, 2021[Albert Gea/Reuters]

Some 80 folks have been arrested and greater than 100 folks injured since Hasel’s arrest.

The dysfunction seems to have come from a fringe group of primarily youthful individuals who constituted a small share of the 1000’s of contributors who joined in marches to assist Hasel and to oppose the Spanish legal guidelines used to prosecute him.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau appealed for calm.

“Defending the freedom of expression doesn’t justify in any case the destruction of property, frightening our fellow citizens and hurting businesses already hurt by the crisis” attributable to the pandemic, the mayor mentioned.

Madrid municipal authorities mentioned that 300 National Police officers have been referred to as as much as help metropolis police.

2021 02 20T195114Z 1840432513 RC2JWL97VQI6 RTRMADP 3 SPAIN RIGHTS RAPPER PROTESTSSupporters of arrested Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel protest in Barcelona, Spain, on February 20, 2021 [Albert Gea/Reuters]

On Friday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez denounced violent protests saying “violence is an attack on democracy”. The feedback got here after Sanchez’s junior coalition companions the far-left United We Can (Unidas Podemos), introduced their assist for the protesters and referred to as for a “total pardon” of Hasel.

The rapper’s case has drawn appreciable public consideration, with artists, celebrities and politicians expressing assist for a change within the nation’s so-called “gag law”, which covers freedom of expression and which Hasel was convicted of violating.

Critics say the legislation curtails free meeting and muzzles dissent.