BARCELONA, Spain — They arrived with their sleeping bags late Saturday, regular Catalonians ready to defy judicial orders and occupy polling stations in and around Barcelona to ensure a referendum on Catalan independence would go ahead.
By Sunday night, nearly 2.3 million of the region’s 5.3 million voters had cast ballots. The hours in between were marked by striking scenes of police firing rubber bullets, smashing into polling stations and beating back protesters with batons.
Spanish officials, who said the referendum was illegal, defended their use of force, saying police acted professionally and their response was proportionate.
Hundreds of people were injured.
Catalonia, one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, has some 7.5 million people and includes Barcelona. The region has its own language and generates a fifth of Spain’s 1.1 trillion euro economy. Catalan officials say parliament will declare independence in the next several days. What happens then is unclear.
Here, AP photographers chronicle a chaotic 24 hours in Catalonia.