Violent protests continue in Barcelona after Catalan leaders sentenced for independence push

PHOTO: Protesters clash with police near the Police headquarters in Barcelona, on October 18, 2019, on the day that separatists have called a general strike and a mass rally.PlayPau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images
WATCH News headlines today: Nov. 14, 2019

Violent protests in Barcelona continued this weekend after at least nine Catalan leaders were sentenced to jail this week for leading the 2017 push for independence from Spain.

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Police on Friday night used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to repel demonstrators who, according to The Associated Press, were "throwing cobblestones and flammable bottles, building barricades and setting dozens of bonfires in large garbage bins.”

Earlier this week, protesters made their way to Barcelona’s airport, forcing some flight cancellations.

Around 400 people, many of them police officers, have been injured since the separatist riots began on Monday, the AP reports.

PHOTO: Pro-independence demonstrators march into the city on the fifth day of protests in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo
Pro-independence demonstrators march into the city on the fifth day of protests in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
PHOTO: Fires burn following an evening of rioting as a general strike is called after a week of protests over the jail sentences given to separatist politicians by Spains Supreme Court, on October 18, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Fires burn following an evening of rioting as a general strike is called after a week of protests over the jail sentences given to separatist politicians by Spain's Supreme Court, on October 18, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.
PHOTO: Catalan demonstrators throw back to the police a tear gas canister officer during Catalonias general strike, in Barcelona, Spain, October 18, 2019. Jon Nazca/Reuters
Catalan demonstrators throw back to the police a tear gas canister officer during Catalonia's general strike, in Barcelona, Spain, October 18, 2019.
PHOTO: Police officers arrest a protester during a demonstration called by students, on October 18, 2019, on the day that separatists have called a general strike and a mass rally. Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images
Police officers arrest a protester during a demonstration called by students, on October 18, 2019, on the day that separatists have called a general strike and a mass rally.
PHOTO: Spanish national police officers stand in the smoke as they protect the Police headquarters in Barcelona, on October 18, 2019, on the day that separatists have called a general strike and a mass rally. Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images
Spanish national police officers stand in the smoke as they protect the Police headquarters in Barcelona, on October 18, 2019, on the day that separatists have called a general strike and a mass rally.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau pleaded for peace Saturday after Friday's riots, which she called the worst since the demonstrations began.

"This cannot continue. Barcelona does not deserve it," Mayor Ada Colau said Saturday, according to the AP.

Catalan interior chief Miquel Buch, who oversees the region police, told the AP that the violence at night doesn’t’ speak to the hundreds of thousands that have protested the court’s verdict peacefully.

"The images of organized violence during the night in Barcelona have overshadowed the half a million people who demonstrated in a peaceful and civic manner to show they rejected the verdict," said Catalan interior chief Miquel Buch, who oversees the regional police.

More than 2 million Catalans voted in October 2017 for Catalunya to become an independent state in the form of a republic, according to the Catalan government. The referendum was unauthorized and took place despite Madrid's opposition. The separatist leaders who organized the vote were found guilty of sedition, disobedience or misuse of public funds, and were sentenced to between nine and 13 years in prison by the Supreme Court of Madrid.

PHOTO: Burned debris are pictured in Barcelona, on October 18, 2019, after violence escalated during clashes, with radical separatists hurling projectiles at police, who responded with teargas and rubber bullets sparking scenes of chaos. Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images
Burned debris are pictured in Barcelona, on October 18, 2019, after violence escalated during clashes, with radical separatists hurling projectiles at police, who responded with teargas and rubber bullets sparking scenes of chaos.
PHOTO: The police throw tear gas to the protesters, in Barcelona, Spain, on October 18, 2019. Isidre Garcia Punti/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The police throw tear gas to the protesters, in Barcelona, Spain, on October 18, 2019.
PHOTO: On all the barricades they wave flags. Protester with the Catalan independence flag, Estelada, in Barcelona, Spain, on October 18, 2019. NurPhoto via Getty Images
On all the barricades they wave flags. Protester with the Catalan independence flag, Estelada, in Barcelona, Spain, on October 18, 2019.
PHOTO: Protesters wave flags in the street as a general strike is called following a week of protests over the jail sentences given to separatist politicians by Spains Supreme Court, on October 18, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Protesters wave flags in the street as a general strike is called following a week of protests over the jail sentences given to separatist politicians by Spain's Supreme Court, on October 18, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.
PHOTO: Police repeatedly hit a fallen protester. On the left a policeman fallen on the ground when charging against the protesters, in Barcelona, Spain, on October 18, 2019. NurPhoto via Getty Images
Police repeatedly hit a fallen protester. On the left a policeman fallen on the ground when charging against the protesters, in Barcelona, Spain, on October 18, 2019.