Spain: Violence flares back up at protests for jailed rapper

BARCELONA, Spain — After a brief respite, protests have again turned violent in Barcelona as supporters of a Spanish rap artist imprisoned for glorifying domestic terrorist groups and insulting Spain’s monarch returned to the streets Saturday.

Several thousand people marched peacefully in the city before small packs spun off and smashed the windows of at least two bank offices and did other property damage. Police made at least 10 arrests, including of two people suspected of trying to set fire to a police van.

There were also protests in other towns in Spain’s Catalonia region, where rapper Pablo Hasél was arrested on Feb. 16 and taken into custody to serve a nine-month prison sentence.

Hasél is doing time for inciting terrorism — he has praised two now-defunct armed groups responsible for killing over 1,000 people in Spain — and for refusing to pay a fine for insulting Spain’s former king.

Protests immediately erupted in cities across Spain following his arrest, but they continued for over a week in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia. More than 100 people were arrested during that stretch.

The flare-up of violence on Saturday came after a few nights of tense calm.

Spain’s left-wing government has pledged to eliminate prison terms for offenses involving freedom of speech, but so far that has done little to quell the unrest.