The protests against the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél have spread to Madrid this Wednesday afternoon. A hundred policemen have charged this afternoon at least five times against hundreds of people who are concentrated in the center of Madrid to demand the release of the singer, who was arrested this Tuesday in Lleida. Amid a strong smell of gunpowder from the firecrackers thrown by the protesters, the Police surrounded the square and had to control six of the eight entrances to the surrounding streets.
The riots have returned for the second day in a row in Catalonia, especially in Barcelona, where protesters have set up barricades and set fire to street furniture. The provisional balance in the Catalan community at 10:45 p.m. was 29 detainees, according to the Mossos. In Madrid, there have been at least 14 arrests.
In the Catalan capital, the Mossos have reported that stones, bottles and blunt objects have been thrown in the area of Plaza de Urquinona, Via Laietana and Ronda de Sant Pere. Barricades with street furniture and containers have been set up in Urquinaona with Pau Claris street. Graffiti is also being produced in shops and “incendiary devices” have been thrown at police vehicles. The assembled have thrown stones at the mossos while shouting in Catalan: “Out with the occupying forces.”
In Girona there have also been launches of glass bottles and pyrotechnics in the area of the Government Sub-delegation. The mossos and protesters have played cat and mouse in the streets of the city’s Barri Vell. Some 300 young people have set fire to containers and bins and placed construction materials in the middle of Calle Santa Clara. The riot police have run after them to make them retreat. In Lleida, groups of protesters have begun to move containers and burn them in streets near the Ponent Penitentiary Center, where Pablo Hasél is imprisoned.
In Madrid, the police have used batons against the protesters, who in turn have responded with blows to the officers. The clashes between the police and groups of protesters have been concentrated at first in front of the Real Casa de Correos, headquarters of the Community of Madrid, in Puerta del Sol, although the riot police have withdrawn the protesters towards Arenal street, which leads to the central Madrid square. In that street there has been a fire in a barricade, already extinguished, and at least two fire engines have come to extinguish it, crossing the area where most of the congregation were at that time. Barricades have also been erected and set on fire on Calle Mayor, Esparteros and San Cristóbal, but smaller in size that soon have remained just a few smoldering remains of burnt papers and bags. The Caixabank de Mayor bank office, destroyed, gave off a strong smell of burning. The broken glass in the shop windows of the same street have suffered a similar fate.
During the most intense moments of the confrontations, some participants climbed into the glass building that covers the entrance of the Cercanías de Sol station to seek refuge, as well as inside the station, which remained open.
Some of the protesters have tried to break the window of a clothing store in the square, in which their shop assistants have taken refuge. From the inside, one of them, Isabel Espinosa, has shown a paper that a stranger has given her at six in the afternoon. “He gave me a sheet that said that at half past six there was a concentration and that he was going to see altercations.” The paper, in effect, read: “Strong altercations and destruction of premises.” His partner, Andrea Pascual, confessed to being “terrified.” After the roar of firecrackers thrown by the participants, the police have practically evacuated the square, although some people who had participated in the stakes with the agents have tried to enter it again.
Once the square was vacated, before nine o’clock at night, the police officers who were in the Puerta del Sol remained with almost a hundred protesters, who have been asked for their documentation. Little by little the square emptied and onlookers began to arrive to see the damage that had been caused.
In the act of protest, in which a majority of young people participate, the conviction imposed on the rapper by the National High Court for a crime of glorifying terrorism and insults and slanders against the monarchy and the State security forces is denounced after spreading messages attacks. The demonstration, called by social networks, did not have the authorization of the Government Delegation.
Jorge Gómez, 24, one of the protesters, criticized: “There is a lack of freedom of expression, because Hasél has only said obvious things.” He believes that the laws that have condemned him are “typical of the Middle Ages.” For her part, Julia Castro, 22, defended that: “Many reggaeton songs have a degrading message with women and are heard by millions of people, while only a minority listen to Hasél.”
The cry that has been heard the most in the central Madrid square is “Nazi by day and police by night” and “here are the anti-fascists.” With banners that read the slogan “Kidnapped by the State, Everyone on the street! Let’s conquer their freedom! ” or “Pablo Hasél, Libertad. Out with Franco’s Justice ”’, the rally had begun with a festive atmosphere with songs demanding the Catalan rapper’s release from prison.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.