RIVAL pro and anti-squatting groups clashed in Barcelona after a judge denied a petition to have a group of squatters evicted.
Riot police from the Mossos d’Esquadra were present in the Placa de la Bonanova from Thursday afternoon to overnight after threats from the eviction company Desokupa to forcibly remove the squatters.
Tension had been building in the usually placid and upmarket neighbourhood for days as anti-squatter groups threatened to take action and pro-squatting groups mobilised in response.
The denial of building owner Sareb to legally remove the squatters had triggered rival groups to gather in the square, prompting fears of ‘pitched battles’ from concerned residents.
Competing groups of protestors demonstrated but they were kept apart by specialist teams of riot police until around 5am on Friday morning.
At this time, a dozen right-wing anti-squatters tried to approach their left-wing counterparts and repeatedly ignored police warnings to back off.
According to Mossos d’Esquadra sources, the 12 individuals were arrested for disobeying a police order.
For their part, during marches through the neighbourhood, a number of pro-squatting protestors threw stones at shops and businesses as they passed.
The dispute revolves around the buildings El Kubo and La Ruïna, which have long been illegally occupied in the upmarket neighbourhood.
One attempt to evict occupiers of El Kubo on March 23 was a failure after authorities deemed it could not be done safely.
Minister of the Interior Joan Ignasi Elena came down against the Desokupa demonstrators, labelling them ‘extremists’.
“A group of the extreme right will not decide or set the pace of when to do or stop doing something,” he said.
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