The protest led by May 15 Movement sympathizers in Barcelona and the hostility displayed by some among their number this morning around the Catalan parliament led to regional premier Artur Mas, some of his close collaborators and other deputies choosing to travel to the assembly by helicopter ahead of today's budget debate.
Mas, of the nationalist CiU bloc, and the assembly speaker, Núria de Gispert, landed by the entrance to the building which gives onto the Ciutadella park, cleared of potential demonstrators by the police last night. Other leading representatives, including the leader of the Socialist opposition Joaquim Nadal, also made their way to the assembly building by helicopter via the park as other deputies were verbally abused and shoved as they made their way past the police cordon to gain access to the building on foot.
"This is intolerable," premier Mas said once he had entered parliament, criticizing what he called "street violence."
The Mossos d'Esquadra regional police force eventually decided to charge against the demonstrators leading to 36 people suffering minor injuries, including 12 police officers.
On Tuesday evening hundreds of people tried to converge on the Catalan regional assembly with the aim of derailing Wednesday's debate on a budget which includes sharp reductions in social spending by the CiU government which came to power late last year.
Police shut down access to the area around the Ciutadella park on Tuesday evening, denying access to the protestors, who had convened despite the regional interior department ordering its closure on Monday.
The organizers informed protestors through social network sites that at least 14 marches originating in the city would meet up in the park. They had planned to spend the night outside the parliament building and at 7am on Wednesday morning form a "human cordon" to prevent members from entering, which is a crime under article 494 of the Penal Code. "But they have never applied this article," one of the spokespeople for the movement said, adding that the protest would be "peaceful, massive and determined." Camping in the city is also prohibited under municipal bylaws. "Not everything legal is fair and not everything fair is legal," say the protestors.
The leader of the Popular Party in Barcelona, Alberto Fernández Díaz, said it was time to dislodge the "remaining anti-system protestors from Plaça Catalunya and reclaim the square for the city."