Riot police fire rubber bullets and beat voters with batons to stop ‘illegal’ Catalan independence referendum

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SPANISH cops have fired rubber bullets and beat people with batons as they tried to disperse crowds gathering to vote in Catalonia’s independence referendum.

Police also forcibly dragged people out of polling stations as they tried to vote in a democratic action described by the Spanish government in Madrid as “illegal”.

 A middle-aged man is helped by emergency services after being left bloodied and beaten by police

Twitter/@joan_guirado_
A middle-aged man is helped by emergency services after being left bloodied and beaten by police
Spanish police drag voters out of polling station in ‘illegal’ Catalon

CEIP Fort Pienc pic.twitter.com/g7gVgbvzCK

— Blanca Llum Vidal (@BlancaLlumVidal) October 1, 2017

 An old woman who was injured in the clampdown is helped by a woman in a stairwell

Twitter/@joan_guirado_
An old woman who was injured in the clampdown is helped by a woman in a stairwell
 Her blood can be seen on the floor as a woman holds a cloth to her head

Reuters
Her blood can be seen on the floor as a woman holds a cloth to her head
​Shots fired​ ​Riot police fire rubber bullets to disperse crowds ahead of Catalonia
 An injured woman reels after riot police shut down a polling station in Barcelona

Twitter/@joan_guirado_
An injured woman reels after riot police shut down a polling station in Barcelona

Police at Carrer de Pau Claris have taken voting boxes and ballots. Now driving off. They were willing to use force, it turns out. @FTpic.twitter.com/2p5T6o19JF

— Michael Stothard (@MStothard) October 1, 2017

A Artesa de Lleida la Guardia Civil està carregant contra la població civil #CatalanReferendumpic.twitter.com/FV27kI7kLl

— Albert Velasco (@velasc_alberto) October 1, 2017

1) Càrrega de la Policia Nacional. Disparen bales de goma i cops de porra. Ferits. (Carrer Sardenya). #CatalanReferendumpic.twitter.com/Of4Ek3juic

— Àlex Tort (@alextortsagues) October 1, 2017

The people being hit by police did not come out to protest or riot, they are trying to enter a polling location. pic.twitter.com/t0Qd4orAxq

— Tim Pool (@Timcast) October 1, 2017

An officer in the Port Fienc neighbourhood was seen jumping into a crowd of sitting protesters with a kick before colleagues threw other voters down the stairs.

Earlier in the morning authorities began seizing ballot boxes and voting papers.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, addressing a cheering crowd in a gym hall that was used as a polling station until it was raided by police. said that that “police brutality [seen today] will shame the Spanish state forever”.

He had intended to vote at the Sant Julia e Ramis polling station until it was visited by cops and was forced to vote somewhere else in Barcelona.

He added: “Today, the Spanish state has lost much more than what it had already lost, while Catalonia has won.”

The regional government said voting was taking place in 73% of approximately 6,000 polling stations today and that 38 people have been injured so far, according to the emergency services.

​Riot police deployed as referendum gets under way in Catalonia​​
 Police breaking down a door to a polling station this morning

AFP
Police breaking down a door to a polling station this morning
 Spanish police dragging voters away from a polling station

Getty Images
Spanish police dragging voters away from a polling station
 Spanish police holding back voters from a polling station at the Ramon Llull school in Barcelona

EPA
Spanish police holding back voters from a polling station at the Ramon Llull school in Barcelona
 A woman carried away by riot police told to prevent the vote from happening

EPA
A woman carried away by riot police told to prevent the vote from happening
 Cops walking away with ballot boxes after raiding a polling station in Barcelona

AFP
Cops walking away with ballot boxes after raiding a polling station in Barcelona

Jordi Turull, a spokesman for the regional administration, called for Catalans to remain calm and patient but to defend “in a civic and peaceful manner” their right to vote.

He added that “the world has seen the violence of the Spanish state,” calling actions by the police as “repression that is a reminder of the Franco era”.

He made the comment in reference to Spain’s dictatorship from 1939-1975 under the autocracy of General Francisco Franco.

He said the Spanish government’s representative to Catalonia, Enric Millo, should resign over the way the police crackdown has been handled.

Dozens of police used riot shields to push people back as would-be voters were heard chanting “we are people of peace” and “we are not afraid”.

Half a dozen armoured police vans and an ambulance were stationed near to a polling station in Barcelona.

Images shared online showed a middle-aged man and two women bleeding after riot police arrived.

The papers were going to be used at polling stations in the eastern Spanish region in a vote the national government has described as “illegal”.

​Spanish police seize ballot boxes as polls open in Catalonian referendum ​
 Catalonians applauding their fellow citizens who cast their votes in Barcelona this morning

AFP
Catalonians applauding their fellow citizens who cast their votes in Barcelona this morning
 Voters wave their ballot papers as they are prevented from voting by police at Ramon Hull school

AP: Associated Press
Voters wave their ballot papers as they are prevented from voting by police at Ramon Hull school
 Catalans cast their ballots at the Escola Collaso I Gil school this morning

Getty Images
Catalans cast their ballots at the Escola Collaso I Gil school this morning
 Catalans lie in the street after police raided a polling station in Barcelona

Reuters
Catalans lie in the street after police raided a polling station in Barcelona
 Voters try to resist riot police at a polling station in Cappont, Lleida

EPA
Voters try to resist riot police at a polling station in Cappont, Lleida

Catalonia’s TV3 showed ballot boxes and voting papers ready for use at one polling station in a Barcelona suburb.

La Vanguardia newspaper reported that the first ballot boxes had arrived in several voting centres.

Voting was due to start 7am GMT (9am local time) this morning.

Some votes have already been cast in more rural parts of the northeastern region.

The Catalan government said regional president Carles Puigdemont had cast his ballot at a polling station later raided by police.

Competing demonstrations have taken place over the last few days with both sides out in a show of force.

Pro-Spain protesters were encouraged not to participate in the vote to prevent giving it legitimacy.

Pro-Catalan demonstrators were arrested after holding a noisy protest using saucepans to protest the crackdown Madrid had threatened.


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