BARCELONA, Spain (ViaNews) – On Sunday around 11 a.m. in Catalonia, the news broke that the former President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont was arrested in Germany. He was trying to cross into Belgium where he had been seeking asylum since Spain issued a European arrest warrant for his role in the Catalonia Declaration of Independence and voting.
As the news broke, the sounds of banging pots rang across Catalonia in a form of protest known as “caserolada.” Soon protests were organized around Barcelona and thousands took to the streets dawning Catalan Independence flags and banners calling for the release of political prisoners.
As the protests commenced crowds gathered near government buildings where riot police from the Catalonian Mossos Esquadra blocked the streets to prevent the angry crowds from entering. Crowds clashed with the riot police on and off through the afternoon with objects being thrown, fires started and heavy handed police responses with the use of beatings, rubber bullets and tear gas.
Tensions rose when the sun dropped as thousands more had gathered in front of the riot police and pushed forward into the frontlines where the riot police and protestors battled while the crowd chanted pro-Catalan independence songs.
As the night commenced, the riot police advanced to clear out the crowds through force with vans and baton beatings. Over 80 were injured including riot police and multiple people detained.
These protests are seen by many as the start of a bigger protest movement that will follow. Some Catalans feel that the region has hit a breaking point with the arrest of their former President.
The formally autonomous region has been under direct Spanish rule since the Declaration of Independence in October 2017. The elections in December saw Pro-Independence parties win the majority, but an agreement to form a government has yet to be made and many high-level Catalan politicians have since been detained by the Spanish government and are unable to participate.