Anarchy in Barcelona: Protestors hurl Molotov cocktails

Anarchy in Barcelona: Protestors hurl Molotov cocktails and set a police van on fire as demonstration demanding release of imprisoned rapper turns violent

  • Arrest of Pablo Hasel sparked outcry that freedom of expression was being eroded and saw thousands protest
  • March descended into anarchy as packs splintered off and smashed shop windows, hurled Molotov cocktails
  • Police wielding batons and wearing riot gear were deployed to the rally and made at least 10 arrests tonight

Protesters ran riot and clashed with police in Barcelona tonight during a demonstration against the imprisonment of a prominent anti-establishment Spanish rapper who insulted the monarchy.

The arrest of Pablo Hasel sparked outcry that freedom of expression was being eroded and saw thousands take to the streets in a forceful show of public anger.

An initially peaceful march descended into anarchy as packs splintered off and smashed shop windows, hurled Molotov cocktails and sent a police van up in flames.

Police wielding batons and wearing heavy-duty riot gear were deployed to the rally and made at least 10 arrests.

‘Barricades and looting continue in the area of central Barcelona. For safety do not approach this area,’ Mossos d’Escuadra, the Catalan regional police, said on Twitter.

Some ‘hooded groups’ were looting along Barcelona’s famous Rambla street, while firefighters were dealing with fires in shops and banks, police said, adding there were ‘several banks with serious damage’. 

An initially peaceful march descended into anarchy as packs splintered off and smashed shop windows, hurled Molotov cocktails and sent a police van up in flames 

Some 2,000 people wearing face masks and carrying banners marched through the city to call for Hasel’s release

Frightening scenes saw protesters wearing balaclavas vandalise stores by shattering windows with hammers – and even setting shop fronts ablaze

People break the windows of a store during a protest in support of rap singer Pablo Hasel after he was given a jail sentence on charges of glorifying terrorism

Police wielding batons and wearing heavy-duty riot gear were deployed to the rally and made at least 10 arrests

Pablo Hasel is doing time for inciting terrorism – he has praised two now-defunct armed groups responsible for killing over 1,000 people in Spain – and for refusing to pay a fine for insulting Spain’s former king

Frightening scenes saw protesters wearing balaclavas vandalise stores by shattering windows with hammers – and even setting shop fronts ablaze. 

Glass bottles were used as makeshift firebombs and lobbed at police by frenzied demonstrators as members of the public watched nervously.

Earlier, some 2,000 people wearing face masks and carrying banners marched through the city to call for Hasel’s release. 

There were also protests in other towns in Spain’s Catalonia region, where rapper Pablo Hasel was arrested on February 16 and taken into custody to serve a nine-month prison sentence. 

Hasel is doing time for inciting terrorism – he has praised two now-defunct armed groups responsible for killing over 1,000 people in Spain – and for refusing to pay a fine for insulting Spain’s former king. 

Hasel was convicted for lyrics and tweets that included references to Basque separatist group ETA, calling Spain’s former king Juan Carlos a mafia boss and likening Spanish judges to Nazis. 

His case has put the spotlight on freedom of expression in Spain, prompting the government to announce it would relax free speech laws.  

Glass bottles were used as makeshift firebombs and lobbed at police by frenzied demonstrators

Protesters kick in the glass front of a store during tonight’s protest in Barcelona 

A protester daubs graffiti on to the the side of a police van in Barcelona tonight during the fiery demonstration

Heavily-clad police officers detain a protester on the ground as they were deployed to keep the peace during the march

A 2015 law was enacted by a previous, rightwing government, which said it was needed to prevent the glorification of banned armed groups such as the Basque separatists ETA.

It bans speech not only for glorifying violence, but also for insulting religions or the monarchy.

Opponents say it has been applied far too restrictively, imposing criminal penalties on legitimate criticism of the state.

Amnesty International says around 70 people were convicted under the law in 2018 and 2019.

Hasel’s case echoes that of another rapper called Valtonyc who fled to Belgium in 2018 after being convicted of similar crimes.

Spain is trying to have him extradited but Belgium has refused on grounds that his offences are not a crime under Belgian law.

Hasel’s arrest has also highlighted the growing frustrations of many young Spaniards, from job insecurity to anger at Spain’s political establishment.  

A person damages the glass front of a bank branch with a hammer as the march descended into anarchy

Members of the public wearing face masks watch nervously as the protest turned violent

A shop window is destroyed by protesters during the demonstration, whish police said also saw lootings

Protesters erect a barricade on the streets of Barcelona tonight as they clashed with police, who made 10 arrests

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