Firemen battered by Spanish cops after forming a HUMAN SHIELD to protect Catalan independence protesters

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CATALAN firemen have been hailed as “heroes” after they were seen forming a human chain to protect protesters from riot police.

Nearly 800 people were reportedly injured in a day of violence as the Spanish region pushed ahead with an “illegal” independence vote.

 Catalan firefighters form a chain to protect protesters from riot cops

Reuters
Catalan firefighters form a chain to protect protesters from riot cops
 The emergency workers were hailed as 'heroes' for their actions on a day of violence

AFP or licensors
The emergency workers were hailed as ‘heroes’ for their actions on a day of violence
 A riot cop swings his baton at Catalan protesters in Barcelona today

AP:Associated Press
A riot cop swings his baton at Catalan protesters in Barcelona today
 Shocking footage shows cops battering the firefighters with truncheons

Twitter
Shocking footage shows cops battering the firefighters with truncheons
 Several officers can be seen swinging their batons at the firemen, who don't appear to fight back

Twitter
Several officers can be seen swinging their batons at the firemen, who don’t appear to fight back
 The firemen are struck repeatedly in the amateur footage

Twitter
The firemen are struck repeatedly in the amateur footage

Riot cops drafted in from other parts of the country were filmed dragging voters from polling stations by their hair and beating others as they lay on the ground.

Amidst the chaos, local firefighters were widely praised for turning out in uniform and trying to keep the warring sides apart.

They linked arms and held back the demonstrators behind them, while seemingly shielding them from the batons of the riot cops.

One clip shows black-clad federal police laying into the firemen with truncheons – some of which have their backs turned.

The firefighters were widely praised on social media, with some going as far as calling them “heroes”.

Sharing a clip of the incident on Twitter, one witness wrote: “Thanks to firefighters for protecting the Catalan people from the police.”

Catalan firefighters protect protesters from riot police during ‘illegal’ independence referendum vote
 The firefighters formed a human chain in an effort to keep the two sides apart

AFP or licensors
The firefighters formed a human chain in an effort to keep the two sides apart
 The firefighters linked arms and held back the demonstrators behind them

Alamy Live News
The firefighters linked arms and held back the demonstrators behind them
 Firefighters can be seen urging protesters back away from police

Alamy Live News
Firefighters can be seen urging protesters back away from police
Cops lash out and open fire as they clear Barcelona road of protesters

Another social media user said: “Firemen in Catalonia having to protect people from police violence.

“Surely the police should protect people from violence not perpetrate it.”

The day of violence began when hundreds of people gathered before dawn at the polling stations for the referendum, which Spain’s central government and courts have ruled is unconstitutional.

Spanish cops chuck Catalan voters down the stairs as they stop referendum vote
 A cop grabs at a woman's clothes during ugly scenes in Catalonia today

Reuters
A cop grabs at a woman’s clothes during ugly scenes in Catalonia today
 Police were seen firing rubber bullets at demonstrators today

AP:Associated Press
Police were seen firing rubber bullets at demonstrators today
 Protesters cower on the ground in front of police in Barcelona

Rex Features
Protesters cower on the ground in front of police in Barcelona

Their goal was to protect the polling stations by preventing police from entering and seizing ballot boxes and voting papers.

But cops forced their way into many polling stations, especially in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, and Girona, the fiefdom of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.

In some cases police fired rubber bullets or charged demonstrators who offered resistance, witnesses said.

Spanish police drag voters out of polling station in ‘illegal’ Catalon
 Protesters hold their hands above their heads in front of riot police

Getty Images – Getty
Protesters hold their hands above their heads in front of riot police
 A demonstrator cowers on the floor amid clashes with police

AFP or licensors
A demonstrator cowers on the floor amid clashes with police

Videos posted on social media sites show cops throwing people down stairs, while one officer was seen jumping into a crowd of sitting protesters with a flying kick.

Another clip shows demonstrators with their hands in the air surrounding a group of riot police chanting “Murderers! Murderers!”

Catalan emergency officials say 761 people were injured in the clashes.

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy defended the police, saying they acted with “firmness and serenity” in the face of an “attack on the rule of law.”

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