During 19-21 February 2021, protesters continued to clash with police officers in Barcelona, the capital of the northeastern Catalonia region, to demand the release of an imprisoned performer. On 21 February riots broke out in front of the National Police Headquarters. Although protests were initially peaceful, demonstrators began throwing bottles, stones and garbage containers at police officers as the evening progressed; police officers responded by forcibly clearing the area. Five individuals were arrested for looting businesses and another three were detained for offenses related to disorderly conduct. At least seven police officers suffered injuries. No information was available on injuries among the rioters. On 20 February demonstrators vandalized banks and shops on Passeig de Gracia avenue and threw projectiles and flares at police officers. In response, authorities fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. A total of four people were injured in the clashes and at least three people were arrested, while demonstrators caused approximately 128,000 euros (156,000 U.S. dollars) worth of damage. On 19 February protesters erected barricades near Plaça Catalunya and Carrer Gravina, as well as along the Avenida Marquès de l’Argentera and Ronda de Sant Pere thoroughfares in the downtown area, and vandalized several banks in the city, including branches of the BBVA and CaixaBank. Several retail stores in the city were also looted. Authorities stated that demonstrators threw firecrackers toward police officers at the Passeig de Lluís Companys walkway. Meanwhile, in the northern Catalan city of Girona, demonstrators lit fires behind a courthouse in the downtown area and erected barricades along the Ronda de Sant Pere thoroughfare. Protesters in the city threw stones at police officers, who deployed batons in response.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has condemned the acts of violence and the government is unlikely to release the performer, who was arrested on 16 February for “insulting the monarchy and glorifying terrorism,” and is also a known supporter of Catalonia’s secession from Spain. Thus far, more than 100 people have been injured and police officers have arrested approximately 80 people since the demonstrations broke out.