Clashes erupt in 2nd night of protests over rapper's jailing

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A police officer shoots rubber bullets at protesters during clashes following a protest condemning the arrest of rap singer Pablo Hasel in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Police fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters as clashes erupted for a second night in a row Wednesday at demonstrations over the arrest of Spanish rap artist Pablo Hasel. Many protesters threw objects at police and used rubbish containers and overturned motorbikes to block streets in both Madrid and Barcelona. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID – Spanish police fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters as clashes erupted for a second night in a row Wednesday at demonstrations against the arrest of rap artist Pablo Hasél.

Many protesters threw objects at officers and used trash containers — setting many alight — and overturned motorbikes to block streets in both Madrid and Barcelona and other cities. Many shop windows were smashed in the demonstrations.

Hasél barricaded himself in a university building earlier this week to avoid his arrest in a case centering on free speech. After a 24-hour standoff, police took him away early Tuesday.

He was taken to prison to serve a 9-month sentence for insulting the monarchy and glorifying terrorism in a song about former King Juan Carlos I and in 64 tweets several years ago.

Hasél's legal situation has drawn considerable public attention, with performers, celebrities and politicians demanding a change in the law he was convicted of violating.

Amnesty International said the case was the latest in a string of artists and social media personalities being put on trial for violating Spain's 2015 Public Security Law, which was enacted by a previous conservative-led government. The law allows has also been criticized for allegedly curtailing free assembly and to muzzle protests.

Some political parties defended the protesters but others defended the police and claimed the violence was caused by vandals.

Initial reports said 30 people were arrested Wednesday and some 20 people injured in the demonstrations.