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Spain sees second night of rioting after rapper’s arrest

Total of 18 people were arrested Tuesday and more than 30 injured, with one protestor losing her eye

Alyssa McMurtrty   | 18.02.2021
Spain sees second night of rioting after rapper’s arrest Protesters start a fire as they gather for a second day demonstration against the arrest of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel in Barcelona, Spain on February 18, 2021. - Spanish police stormed a university to arrest the rapper barricaded inside after being sentenced to nine months' jail over tweets attacking the monarchy and the police in a case denounced as an attack on freedom of speech. in Barcelona on February 18, 2021. ( Adria Puig - Anadolu Agency )

OVIEDO, Spain 

Violent clashes and rioting broke out in several cities in Spain for a second consecutive night Wednesday as protestors rallied in support of imprisoned rapper Pablo Hasel. 

The rapper was jailed Tuesday on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting the Spanish monarchy in politically charged tweets and song lyrics. He has been sentenced to nine months in prison.

Amnesty International has decried the case as infringing on free speech. Spain’s far-left Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias has called on the government to urgently grant Hasel a pardon.

Protests in support of Hasel were called in several cities across Spain, many of which eventually degraded into violence.

According to Spanish daily El Pais, 10 people have been arrested in Madrid and six in Catalonia, although some of the protests are continuing.

In Madrid, where hundreds gathered, police and protestors faced off violently. Madrid’s emergency services reported that nine people were injured and three had to be hospitalized, including a police officer.

In Barcelona, the local daily La Vanguardia quoted a police commander as calling the latest protests “more severe” than the previous day.

Protestors again erected barricades using objects like garbage containers, which they set on fire. They also vandalized a hotel on one of the city’s main avenues and hurled objects at police.

In Lleida, aggressive protestors were setting up barricades around the prison where the rapper is being held.

Police said violent incidents including looting, burning vehicles and destroying public property have occurred in Barcelona, Lleida and Girona.

The southern city of Granada also saw protestors burning objects to create flaming barricades.

In Barcelona alone, the damage caused by torching large garbage containers late Tuesday was pegged at around €70,000 ($84,290). Dozens of businesses were also vandalized and some were looted, while private vehicles were used to create flaming barricades to ward off police.

In total, 18 people were arrested Tuesday, with more than 30 injured, half of which were police. One young woman also lost her eye after police shot her with a rubber or foam bullet.

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