THIS is the moment a wall of riot police fired on violent protestors as rocks, glass bottles and rubber bullets fought for command over Barcelona’s city streets.
Last night’s sixth day of protests over hefty jail sentences imposed upon political leaders of Catalunya’s illegal referendum brought more fire and fury to the region’s capital city.
Six arrests were made – down from 83 on Friday night – but the smaller demonstration was far from a quiet affair.
The Plaça Urquinaona was again the centre of peaceful demonstrations from 6pm that turned violent after nightfall with phone boxes toppled, bus shelters smashed and a restaurant’s outdoor seating area torched in a bonfire of bins and potted plants.
Protestors, many with faces concealed by balaclavas and bandanas, spray painted ‘ACAB’ (all coppers are bastards) and ‘puta Espanya’ on every fixed surface before Catalan’s police force rolled in at midnight.
At least four Mossos d’Esquadra agents fired rubber bullets the size of squash balls into the angry crowd as a street battle turned the junction of Carrer de Pau Claris and Ronda de Sant Pere into a war zone.
“F**k Spain,” screamed one middle-aged man as he broke cover to hurl a piece of paving stone at helmeted police officers.
Police sources reportedly said they had ‘never experienced such levels of violence’ against their own agents as seen this week.
Rubber bullets pinged off every surface as the crowds refused to cave in and the rocks, eggs, bottles and beer cans kept flying.
A makeshift Red Cross took in those caught in the crossfire, many of them in their teens.
“It’s horrific. People have taken bullets in the eye,” one Red Cross volunteer, who declined to be named, told the Olive Press.
But even with the crowds pushed back to the far corners of Plaça Urquinaona, violent clashes erupted within the protestors’ camps.
“There were police informants among us, so we battered them,” one protestor clutching a rock told the Olive Press.
Not even the journalists present were safe in their high-vis jackets with one photo journalist, Jun Trenco, saying she took a baton to the leg.
“I was standing in a corner when a policeman came at me and swung at my thigh,” she said.
It comes as an El Pais journalist was among the 83 arrested on Friday for reportedly filming a separate arrest during violent altercations.
By 1am, the clash between police and protestors had abated and both Mossos d’Esquadra and Policia Nacional riot vans left the scenes as the multitude cheered and shouted ‘the streets are ours’.
“The government is wiping its arse with the Spanish constitution,” Ivan, a 21-year-old law student at the Universitat de Barcelona, told the Olive Press as protestors cleared the area.
“I’m not pro independence but these sentences are a joke.
“The police have a responsibility to uphold the law, but if the government does what the hell it wants why should I respect that?”
With Plaça Urquinaona littered with glass and rubbish bags left out after 1,000 bins were torched, a group of agitators moved to the La Rambla area of the Catalan capital where the six were arrested following vandalism of shop fronts.