Huge crowds bring Barcelona to standstill in protest against Spain's police crackdown on referendum

Parts of Barcelona were brought to a standstill as huge crowds gathered outside Spanish government offices.

Parts of Barcelona were brought to a standstill as huge crowds gathered during a strike called by pro-independence groups after hundreds of people were injured in a Spanish police crackdown on the banned independence referendum.

Port workers and firefighters held demonstration outside the regional headquarters of Spain's ruling Popular Party. Protesters threw wads of unused ballot papers into the air outside PP offices. Regional police placed barriers outside the building to stop the crowd getting near the offices. Protests were also staged outside the Interior Ministry's regional office in Barcelona and at polling stations where police acted with force to try to prevent Sunday's poll being held.

Crowds fill every inch of space at Barcelona's Plaça UniversitatLluis Gene/AFP
People take part in a demonstration two days after the banned independence referendum in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
People hold up placards referring to Spain's heavy handed police crackdownYves Herman/Reuters
People raise hands and shout slogans outside People's Party (PP) regional headquarters in BarcelonaJuan Medina/Reuters
Firefighters hold up their hands during a demonstration called to protest against police actions during the banned independence referendum in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
Catalan regional police officers walk along a street covered with ballot papers for the banned independence referendum which were thrown by people from the People's Party (PP) headquarters in BarcelonaVincent West/Reuters
People place flowers on the gate of the Ramon Llull high school where Spanish police clashed with voters during the banned referendum in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
A man wrapped in a Catalan pro-independence Estelada flag puts flowers on the gate of Barcelona's Ramon Llull School, which was used as a polling station and was one of those targeted by riot policePau Barrena/AFP
A man holds up a placard during a demonstration called to protest against police actions during the banned independence referendum in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
A person holds up a placard during a protest in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
A person holds up a banner in front of the Ramon Llull high school where Spanish police clashed with voters during the banned referendum in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Barcelona headquarters of Spain's National Police to protest against their heavy-handed crackdown. The crowds shouted slogans calling Spanish police an "occupying force" and urging them to leave the region.

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Huge crowds of protesters gather outside the Spanish police headquarters in BarcelonaLluis Gene/AFP

Spanish police officers staying in a hotel in the beach town of Pineda de Mar in the province of Catalonia were met with protesters holding Catalan 'Estelada' flags and demanding they leave town, days after the violence-marred referendum on independence. Spanish National Police officers shouted back and chanted slogans in support of Spanish police forces and the unity of Spain.

Spanish National Police officers stand outside their hotel and shout at locals protesting their presence in Pineda de Mar, north of BarcelonaAlbert Gea/Reuters
Catalan regional police officers, Mossos d'Esquadra, stand in front of a group of Spanish National Police officers shouting at locals who were protesting their presenceAlbert Gea/Reuters

The stoppages, originally billed as a region-wide general strike but disavowed by the country's largest unions, affected the public sector, public transport and basic services. Metro stations were deserted as services were cut back sharply, pickets blocked traffic on Gran Via street and traffic on six major highways in the region was disrupted by protests.

Empty platforms are seen at Plaça de Catalunya metro station are seen during a strike called by pro-independence parties and unions in BarcelonaSusana Vera/Reuters
Picketers block one of Barcelona's main street with a banner calling for the 'occupiers' to leaveVincent West/Reuters
Trucks and cars block a street in Bascara, a small Catalonian town north of GironaVincent West/Reuters
Tractors block a street near a pedestrian crossing painted in the form of an Estelada (Catalan pro-independence flag), in BascaraVincent West/Reuters

Many services under the control of the Catalan government saw some stoppages, with public transport running at around 40 percent, according to reports, while port workers and civil servants also walked out. Elsewhere, the response to the strike call was patchy with some shops, supermarkets and cafes open and some closed. Most stalls in the popular Boqueria market were closed and it was almost empty.

Tourists stand outside Barcelona's Sagrada Familia, which was closed for the dayPau Barrena/AFP
Various closed businesses are seen in Barcelona during the general strikeLluis Gene/AFP
Tourists buy fruit juices in an almost closed La Boqueria market in BarcelonaSusana Vera/Reuters

Spain's two largest unions said they would not take part in the general strike and called for dialogue between the central government and Catalonia, criticising both the call for independence and the heavy-handed police tactics. "The UGT and the CCOO clearly state that we do not back this position or this political strategy," they said.

People hold on to Catalan separatist flags above an air vent in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
Boys play volley ball with a Catalan pro-independence flag tied to the net, on a beach in BarcelonaDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Students hold a large Catalan separatist flag during a general strike two days after the banned independence referendum in BarcelonaEnrique Calvo/Reuters

More than 890 civilians were treated for injuries following clashes during the referendum, according to Catalan regional health authorities. Police used batons and rubber bullets to clear people hoping to vote in the referendum. Spain's Interior Ministry said 431 National Police and Civil Guard agents were injured too.

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