Spain blasts Catalan regional police for not closing polling stations

Spain blasts Catalan regional police for not closing polling stations”

Civil Guard riot police with shields used a hammer to smash the glass of the front door of the voting centre and lock cutters to force their way in.

But Catalan President Carles Puigdemont remained defiant Sunday night as he condemned the violence, calling it a "shameful page" in the country's history.

A minority of around 40% of Catalans support independence, polls show, although a majority want to hold a referendum on the issue.

Spain's central government is staunchly against the vote, which has been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, and has vowed to stop it from taking place.

The officers then began seizing ballot papers and boxes as the polls opened at 9 a.m (local time). The Catalan government said 337 people have been hurt.

But it's getting ugly for Catalans who are trying to vote in today's (Oct. 1) "illegal" and "evil" independence referendum. "It is a mockery of democracy, a travesty of democracy", Alfonso Dastis said.

The police, he said, had used "batons, rubber bullets and indiscriminate force" against people demonstrating "peacefully".

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau says more than 460 people have been injured in Catalonia.

Catalans camp overnight at polling stations. Earlier Sunday, Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said that voting was underway in 96 percent of the voting centers. A spokesman said 73 per cent of voting sites were operational despite the police action. Violent clashes between police and voters broke out.

People told me they were afraid and the vote was delayed as children and older people were moved away from the police's expected point of approach.

Lauren says when Catalan police arrived Sunday morning to confront parents and teachers camped out at a polling station at a school, "they didn't lift a finger".

Puigdemont changed his voting plans after his regular voting station in Sant Julia de Ramis was shut down by police.

At the Pau Claris School in Barcelona, amateur footage filmed by one voter showed police roughing up unarmed people standing in their way.

"This is a gesture than honours them", Millo said, just hours after he complained that Catalan regional police were not doing anything to prevent polling stations from opening.

Organisers smuggled in ballot boxes before dawn and urged voters to use passive resistance against police.

"Given the exceptional nature of events, the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first-team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League's refusal to postpone the game".

Why is a vote being held?

Tension has been on the rise since the vote was called in early September, crystallising years of defiance by separatists in the affluent region, which contributes a fifth of Spain's economy.

"The referendum that wanted to liquidate our constitution and separate a part of our country with no regards to the opinion of the whole nation did not came into existence", he said.

"Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?" There are two boxes: Yes or No. "But now, I'm going to vote yes to independence", she said angrily.

Separatist Catalans have long complained of contributing too much to the state while not getting enough in return.

Why is Madrid so opposed?

So it was that Catalonia's government organised the vote in secret over weeks, under the threat of reprisals and criminal charges from the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

"There will be no referendum on October 1", government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo declared on Friday.

- The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister blamed the violence on the determination of the Catalan authorities to go ahead with the vote, despite it being declared illegal.

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