Brussels (Brussels Morning) Violence broke out in Barcelona on Saturday as protests over the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasél degenerated into riots, according to DW reporting.
Rioters clashed with police and destroyed public and private property as well as looting, which led to at least ten arrests on Saturday.
Protest turned to riot
The protest, initially several thousand strong, was marred when groups of rioters broke away from the march in the evening and turned violent, in one instance setting a police van on fire.
Rioters burned rubbish bins and looted stores and bank offices, one of which was torched, according to police reports. One rioter threw a Molotov cocktail at police.
The arrest of Hasél on 16 February sparked protests, resulting in more than 110 arrested since. The protests have not been limited to Barcelona, although Saturday’s violence on Saturday was the most pronounced there.
Hasél, arrested for glorifying violence and terrorism and insulting the monarchy, was sentenced to nine months in prison.
Known for his anti-establishment views, he was convicted in 2018 for describing the former King of Spain Juan Carlos I as a mafia boss and for accusing police of unjustified violence against migrants and protesters. An initial sentence of two years was later reduced to nine months.
Not just freedom of expression
Protesters have been taking to the streets most days since the arrest, demanding Hasél’s release. At the outset, the protests were about freedom of expression, but they have since widened to include rising rent charges and unemployment rates.The unemployment rate for people under age 25 in Spain is currently around 40% due to pandemic restrictions, the highest such level in the EU, according to official bloc statistics, the New York Times reported on Saturday.