BARCELONA – Protesters threw bottles at police, torched containers and destroyed shops in Barcelona on Saturday on the fifth night of clashes after a rapper was jailed for glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty in his songs.
The nine-month sentence of Pablo Hasel, known for his harsh raps against the establishment, has sparked a debate over freedom of expression in Spain as well as protests that have at times turned violent.
Protesters threw projectiles and flares at the police, who fired foam bullets to disperse the crowd, Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan regional police force, said on Twitter.
About 6,000 protesters gathered in the Catalan town, local police said.
Protesters attacked shops in Barcelona’s most prestigious shopping street, Passeig de Gracia, as the newspaper The country reported that others smashed the windows of the iconic Palau de la Musica concert hall.
Two people were arrested in Barcelona, local police said.
A protest in Madrid was peaceful, but in the northern towns of Pamplona and Lleida, police charged protesters.
Previously, Socialist Party President Cristina Narbona condemned the violence that marked the protests over the past four nights.
“We reiterate our strongest condemnation of the violence, which cannot be justified as a defense of freedom of expression,” she said.
During the first three nights of protests, police fired tear gas and foam bullets at protesters who set fire to garbage containers and motorcycles and looted shops. There were also clashes in Madrid and other cities.
Officials said four people were injured in Barcelona on Friday after protesters threw projectiles at police, attacked two banks and set containers on fire. Protesters caused 128,000 euros ($ 156,000) in damage, the city council said.
More than 60 people have been arrested across Catalonia, police said. A woman has lost an eye in clashes in Barcelona, prompting calls from politicians to investigate police tactics.
Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem was among the artists, celebrities and politicians who called for a change in the law on free speech. The Spanish government announced last week that it would abolish prison sentences for freedom of expression offenses.
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