Protesters threw bottles at police, set fire to containers, and destroyed shops in Barcelona on Saturday, the fifth night of clashes, after a rapper was jailed to glorify terrorism and insult the monarchy in his songs.
According to a report by “Voice of America” America, the prison sentence of nine months on Pablo Hassel, who is known for his strongly anti-establishment rap practices, sparked controversy over freedom of expression in Spain as well as protests that sometimes turned into violence.
Catalan regional police Mossos Descuadra said that protesters threw projectiles and lighting bombs at police, which fired foam bullets to disperse the crowd.
Local police said that about six thousand protesters gathered in the Catalan city.
Protesters attacked shops on Barcelona’s most famous shopping street, Passeig de Gracia, while the El Pais newspaper reported that others smashed windows in the Palau de la Musica concert hall.
Local police said two people were arrested in Barcelona.
The demonstration in Madrid was peaceful, but in Pamplona and Lydda’s cities in the north, the police accused the demonstrators of rioting.
Earlier, Socialist Party President Cristina Narbona denounced the violence witnessed by the protests during the past four nights. “We reiterate our strong condemnation of the violence that cannot be justified as a defense of freedom of expression,” she said.
During the first three nights of the demonstrations, police fired tear gas and foam bullets at protesters who set fire to garbage containers, motorcycles, and looted stores. Clashes also occurred in Madrid and other cities.
Officials said four people were injured in Barcelona on Friday after protesters pelted police with shells, attacked two banks, and set fire to containers. The city council said the protesters caused losses of 128,000 euros (156,000 dollars).
Police said more than 60 people were arrested across Catalonia. A woman lost her eye during clashes in Barcelona, prompting calls from politicians to investigate police tactics.
Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem was among the artists, celebrities, and politicians who have called for a change in the law covering freedom of expression.
Last week, the Spanish government announced that it would abolish prison terms for crimes related to freedom of expression issues.