The “extreme violence” that took place yesterday in various Catalan cities overwhelmed the Mossos d’Esquadra. The protesters destroyed the Catalan police station in Vic: they broke the windows, damaged the security cameras, sabotaged the telephone line, damaged a van and the policemen were cornered asking for help. “They had to use code 33,” explained the Minister of the Interior, Miquel Sàmper, about the number used by the station to alert of a situation of “extreme gravity”. Sàmper has attributed what happened to the protests over the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél, but also to “general tiredness” due to the restrictions that the pandemic implies.
Sàmper has defended in a press conference that the penal code that punishes the so-called crimes of opinion be changed. “They are outdated and stale precepts from another era,” he said, and immediately added that there is “nothing to justify the violence” that took place yesterday in cities like Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Vic or Reus. “A gratuitous violence that was directed at mossos, local police and urban guards ”, criticized Sàmper. In total, 25 officers and 30 protesters were injured and 40 establishments were destroyed. The police arrested 18 people.
“It was an exceptional, unforeseen situation, that there was the level of violence and aggressiveness”, has admitted the spokesman commissioner of the Mossos, Joan Carles Molineros, about the preparation of a police device that could not cope and that exceeded the analyzes of the Catalan police in terms of its virulence, with a situation “very tense, very borderline, very aggressive.” Sàmper has also announced at the press conference that they will review the design of the police stations, which are based on a proximity approach, and that in cases like Vic, with large stained glass windows, they are more vulnerable to any attack.
The leadership of the Mossos has met early this Wednesday to analyze what happened yesterday and also propose how they address the demonstrations that will be repeated this afternoon. Commissioner Molinero has warned that the Mossos will act in a “forceful” manner if the altercations and “excessive violence” are repeated and has assured that they will not “shake their pulse” if they need to request reinforcements from the National Police. Late yesterday, the Mossos headquarters, with the director, Pere Ferrer, the councilor and Major Trapero, among others, traveled to Vic to give their support to the agents.
Police unions have roundly condemned the attacks on officers. And they ask the Interior to evaluate the security conditions of the police stations, the training that the agents have and also the public order model that they assure that on many occasions it leaves the Mossos without enough tools to intervene in the disturbances. The Catalan police are prohibited from using rubber balls by order of Parliament, but they do have tear gas, which so far have not been authorized in any demonstration.
The mayor of Vic (Barcelona), Anna Erra, has condemned this Wednesday the violence used by some of the protesters who demanded the freedom of rapper Pablo Hasél and has assured that “a red line was crossed, it had never ended [una manifestación] with these riots ”. The mayor, who accompanied the police commanders on their visit to the police station at dawn, said in an interview on RAC-1 that the assailants were organized and prepared. “Yesterday [por este martes] a line was crossed. Until now, the demonstrations against the repression were peaceful. It was a disappointment, we had always held a lot of demonstrations, but we had never ended these riots. We cannot be happy that freedom of expression ends in violence. We condemn it ”, declared the mayor.
“The one at the Mossos police station was a very well thought out attack by a very small and well prepared group, but I don’t have enough information to know if it was premeditated,” he added. “There were people who carried things prepared to light containers,” said Erra, who pointed out that the Vic Urban Guard believes that perhaps there was an intention for the demonstration to end these disturbances. “
Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, where there were also protests against the rapper’s imprisonment, said this Wednesday that the riots on Tuesday night in many towns in Catalonia did not help Hasél to get out of jail, and reported that in the Catalan capital burned about 50 containers, valued at about 70,000 euros. In an interview on RAC-1, Colau has considered that “the imprisonment of Pablo Hasél causes indignation”, but has also said that “violence is not the way”. “The riots will not get him out of jail and they are totally unjustified. We hope that they will not be repeated ”, said the first mayor of Barcelona.
Colau has expressed “all respect for the exercise of the right to demonstrate. Demonstrating is not a problem, on the contrary, but I ask that containers not be burned, which does not solve anything, especially in a context of crisis ”. The mayor has revealed that they removed a hundred containers “because the Mossos warned us that there was a certain risk.”
“What happened is very serious and it should be quickly fixed politically. Amnesty International and the world of culture are asking for it. It goes beyond Hasel because it is a question of freedom of expression. They are serious events and more so in a context of pandemic and social unrest ”, Colau reflected.
The mayor has asked “an effort to all political forces to give an answer to overcome the crisis” and recalled that “days ago that the proposal to reform the Penal Code was entered. Unfortunately the reforms are slower than we would like and that is why Jaume Asens has presented a petition for pardon ”from the rapper. “We hope that the pardon through the emergency route can be processed because it is a serious case,” Colau concluded.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.