Spain braces for 5th night of protests for imprisoned rapper

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Authorities in Spain braced Saturday for a fifth night of protests over the imprisonment of a rap artist for having insulted the Spanish monarchy and praised terrorist violence in his music.

Organizers called for demonstrations in Madrid and Barcelona, where protests on previous nights this week featured some clashes with police, property damage and looting.

Around 80 people have been arrested, including four on Friday night, and more than 100 people injured since rapper Pablo Hasél was arrested on Tuesday in the northeast city of Lleida and taken away to begin serving a 9-month prison sentence.

The disorder appears have come a fringe group of mainly younger people who constituted a small share of the thousands of participants who joined in marches to support Hasél and to oppose the Spanish laws used to prosecute him.

Police in Catalonia, the region surrounding Barcelona, have reported at least three mob attacks on police stations. Rioters smashed their way into bank offices in downtown Barcelona, burned trash containers, and looted sporting goods stores on Friday night.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau made an appeal for calm.

“Defending the freedom of expression doesn’t justify in any case the destruction of property, frightening our fellow citizens, and hurting businesses already hurt by the crisis" caused by the pandemic, the mayor said.

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