The fifth night of protests in Barcelona over the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél led to the looting of numerous shops in the city center. And it reached two emblematic buildings: the Palau de la Música and the Barcelona Stock Exchange. In the previous days there were also occasional looting, but the incidents were mainly clashes between protesters and the police. This Saturday, the shops of two commercial hubs – Portal de l’Àngel and Passeig de Gràcia – suffered the wrath of young people demanding Hasél’s release amid a climate of growing social unrest due to the consequences of the pandemic. The Mossos have made six arrests in Barcelona. The incidents have left seven people treated for injuries; two of them have been hospitalized.
The demonstration this Saturday started at 7:00 p.m. in the usual setting: the Plaza de Universitat. It was the most massive of the five carried out because it brought together, according to the Urban Guard, 6,000 people. On Tuesday, the day of the first protest after Hasél’s admission to Ponent prison for a crime of glorifying terrorism, some 4,500 people gathered in the streets of the city. Since then, the number had declined steadily. Until this Saturday. Columns of protesters left neighborhoods in Barcelona and the metropolitan area to congregate in the city center.
Everything happened more quickly than usual. The demonstration had just begun to advance through the round of Universitat when a group made an advance and ran towards the Plaza de Urquinaona. Stones and objects were thrown at the police. Despite the rapid reaction of the Mossos, some managed to reach the Portal de l’Àngel and vandalized and looted various shops. Another group, also hooded, took advantage of the presence of a bag of rubble a few meters from the Palau de la Música to stone the glass at the entrance of the modernist coliseum.
The Mossos focused their efforts on trying to contain the advance of the demonstration along Via Laietana, headquarters of the Superior Police Headquarters. The police tactic was to act quickly, without giving a respite, and with a large number of troops. Before the protest, they even walked their water tank, planned for serious incidents, down the street.
The push of the Mobile Brigade led the protesters to Plaza de Catalunya. Through their Twitter account, the Mossos reported that “a large group of people” threw “motorcycles parked on the ground” and carried out “throwing stones and objects at the agents” throughout that area. Scattered and hooded, some protesters followed the tour of Passeig de Gràcia, the luxury shopping street par excellence in Barcelona. The protesters exploded more than a dozen of the fashion stores in the lower part of the promenade: Nike, Diesel, Hugo Boss, Sandro, Uterque, Guess, Tous or Desigual. Some, like Nike, were also looted.
The young people used heavy material taken from these premises – like a cash register – to throw it at the Barcelona Stock Exchange. Containers were also burned at the doors of the building. The protest went up to the Gràcia neighborhood, where the Mossos charged forcefully to try to clear the last protesters around 9:15 p.m.