Barcelona’s El Prat airport has seen some brutal fighting as police in riot gear faced off with huge crowds of Catalans, angered by the lengthy prison sentences handed to the organizers of the 2017 independence referendum.
The Spanish Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to sentence the Catalan officials behind the referendum to between nine and 13 years has sparked a storm of protests in the capital of the wealthy autonomous Spanish province. The court also issued a European arrest warrant for former regional president Carles Puigdemont.
Crowds of people poured into the streets of Barcelona within mere minutes of the ruling. Soon, Democratic Tsunami, a local group in favor of a more active form of civil disobedience, called on tens of thousands of its members to march on the city airport, located 15 kilometers away from the center of Barcelona.
The airport then saw fierce fighting between the crowds of angry protesters who had heeded the call, and the riot police deployed to the scene. Videos from the airport showed officers in full riot gear brutally dispersing the crowds by beating people with batons and pushing them to the ground.
Yet, about 8,000 demonstrators managed to get inside, effectively stalling operations at the airport. Dozens of flights have been canceled, leading to air traffic collapse and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. Some of the passengers also barely escaped the clashes between police and the angry crowds.