Spanish riot police confronting citizens at polling stations
Riot agents challenging people in several locations, including the voting station where Catalan President was expected to vote
Spanish riot police officers are confronting citizens in several polling stations in Catalonia, including in Girona, where Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, was expected to vote. Officers from paramilitary Guardia Civil have raid a polling station in Sant Julià de Ramis, while other agents have confronted citizens in the streets of Barcelona.
As thousands of police from all over Spain are following through with Madrid’s orders in order to stop the referendum in its tracks, people are chanting 'go away' and pro-independence and Catalan songs to police. The Home Affairs Ministry, in an unprecedented action, has tweeted criticizing the passivity of the Catalan police. They said that, unlike them, Spanish police are stopping the "illegal referendum."
Thousands of pro–independence supporters from all walks of life had occupied schools and other buildings designated as polling stations, many of them staying overnight in order to guarantee that police would not be able to get in, but optimism was replaced by disbelief as morning revealed what the day might bring. The police crackdown had begun not long after polling stations opened and people began to vote, and is now well underway.
After a long and nervous night, the reality of the situation dawned on activists as riot police began kicking them out of polling station buildings, leaving many feeling disheartened and at a loss of what to do.
"I feel tired and powerless," said one activist who had spent the night at a college to be used as a polling station until being evicted.
As the evictions began across towns and cities in Catalonia, scuffles erupted outside some of the polling stations, with police hitting people trying to reach the ballot boxes.
At the polling station where president Carles Puigdemont was expected to vote, riot police have used shields and hammers to smash their way through the glass doors and gain entry. They began confiscating ballot boxes and other referendum related material, prompting clashes between voters and the Guardia Civil, who used their shields to force crowds back.
Police have been intimidating and pushing people of all ages, and began firing rubber bullets at citizens, causing a number of injuries. As various incidents from across Catalonia are coming to light, tensions continue to rise, but crowds remain steadfast chanting "we will vote."
Many citizens have been trying to maintain the calm in the face of police confrontations, with many sitting in the street in non–violent protest against the latest developments unfolding on this rainy October day. Riot police, supported by a convoy of riot vans, closed in on the peaceful protesters, before beating people with batons. As the crowd dispersed, they opened fire, shooting rubber bullets indiscriminately at anybody who happened to be in the way.
By midday, at least 38 people have been injured, according to official figures, in what Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is calling "police brutality" that "that will forever shame those who justify it."
Also in response to today's police actions, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau has called for Spanish president Mariano Rajoy's resignation.