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

More than 400 people have been injured in the Barcelona protests this week.

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.

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.

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.