THE Catalonian police – the Mossos d’Esquadra – has been instructed by Spain’s Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Cataluña (TSJC) to prevent Sunday’s referendum from taking place.
The prosecutor demanded that both Catalan AND Spanish police forces seal off designated polling stations from Friday, but this was overruled by the TSJC given that many of the polling sites are also schools.
Instead, sites have been ordered to be closed with all residents asked to vacate voting premises by 6am on Sunday.
The Court has ordered its police to not respond violently to citizens protesting peacefully under any means inside or outside polling stations and to take into account the possible presence of children or the elderly at the sit-ins.
Officers have been instructed to identify anyone still inside the polling stations at 6am on Sunday and ask them to leave peacefully.
The first of the two nights of occupations of polling stations by Catalonian residents ended this morning without serious incident.
A whole range of determined citizens have participated in the sit-ins to ensure the vote goes ahead.
Farmers have driven their tractors in from the surrounding countryside to block police vehicles from approaching polling booths.
Catalonian fire fighters told a meeting of the Catalan National Assembly that they would form a human shield around polling stations in order to “act as a security cordon as a way to ensure the peaceful acts relating to voting.”
Some schools have also organized impromptu festivals, concerts and workshops within their buildings to give parents’ associations and teachers legitimate reasons to remain in the stations.
One school in the village Juneda has even removed its main door in order to keep the building from being locked up by police.