Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Spain to demand for the immediate release of rapper, Pablo Hasel that was arrested for insulting the monarchy and glorifying terrorism.
Violence erupted in different parts of Spain as the police attempted to disperse the raging protesters who argued that the rapper’s prosecution is an assault on free speech.
Police in riot gear stormed a university 150 kilometers (90 miles) west of Barcelona on Tuesday morning and arrested rapper Pablo Hasel, who had barricaded himself inside Lleida University to resist arrest.
Torrent of dissatisfied residents, however, rallied in central Barcelona waving banners and placards that said, “Freedom for Pablo Hasel.”
A handful of protesters also set trash cans on fire, erected street barricades, and threw stones, bottles, and firecrackers at the police, chanting slogans such as “Death to the Spanish regime.”
Hasel faces nine months in prison for the charges against him. His case has reignited a debate about free speech in Spain.
Video footage on Twitter also showed police charging at protesters hurling objects at them, trying to disperse the crowd, in some cases using batons and foam projectiles.
Several stores and banks were damaged, and police stations in the Catalan capital were vandalised, with windows smashed and spray-paints on the walls.
The Catalan regional police Mossos d’Escuadra said on Twitter that protesters burned motorbikes and bins, creating barricades and blocking streets in Barcelona, adding that 14 people had been arrested.
Several other cities have experienced clashes over the arrest of the rapper with protesters demanding the government release the rapper and review the law on free speech.
More than 200 artists, including film director, Pedro Almodóvar and Hollywood star, Javier Bardem, have signed a petition against Hasel’s jail term, while Amnesty International described his arrest as terrible news for freedom of expression in Spain.
Fellow Spanish rapper Valtònyc, who fled to Belgium in 2018 after being convicted of similar offences, told the AFP news agency he felt “shame” and “anger at seeing a colleague treated like this for doing what artists do, which is to provoke.”