Over 337 people have been injured so far, according to Catalan government.
After Catalan police failed to stop a vote for independence, Spanish police descended Sunday on several voting areas throughout Catalonia to stop what authorities consider to be an illegal act.
Tensions rose in some voting centers, including Saint Julia de Ramis School in Girona and Ramon Llull School in Barcelona, as hundreds of anti-riot Spanish police blocked Catalan activists from voting, according to /images from Spanish broadcasters.
Images have emerged of police using rubber bullets, dragging protesters and also of demonstrators throwing stones at police cars. The Catalan government estimates that 337 protestors have been injured so far.
However, in dozens of other centers, the situation remained calm with the Catalan government reporting that 73 percent of them were open. The Catalan police force (Mossos d’Esquadra) had orders to clear out the voting centers by 6.00 a.m. (0400GMT) Sunday morning, but in many cases, they did not stop it.
In the Official Language School Drassanes in Barcelona, activists slept inside overnight and more came at 5 a.m. for passive resistance. The Mossos arrived around 6.30 a.m. but did not even try to clear out the building.
"The Mossos are the good guys," Bernard, 60, from Barcelona told Anadolu Agency when they arrived.
Prosecutors said to take action against passive police
Later, when the ballot boxes arrived, the Mossos blocked the car for about 20 minutes. They eventually left and allowed the activists to bring the ballot boxes inside, and the voting allegedly began, contrary to the Spanish central government's wishes.
According to Spanish daily El Pais, prosecutors will take action against the Catalan police for their inaction.
Yet, shortly after the voting was to begin, organizers said that the Internet connection between the applications where they would validate the voters’ identification was not working. They said it had been blocked by the Spanish government. Later Saturday afternoon, organizers said the connection was working again, and that thousands of people were voting.
Despite the technological problems, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont -- who had previously announced that he would be voting in Saint Julia de Ramis School in Girona, where the police presence is heavy -- said he voted at another location.
In a press conference earlier Sunday morning, Catalan leaders said that if they were unable to vote at one location, they would vote in another.
The vote is planned to end Sunday evening. What happens to the ballots during the counting process is still unknown.
If Catalans vote "Yes" for independence, which is expected as "No" voters are for the most part boycotting the vote, the pro-separatist Catalan government has said it would declare independence if it considers the vote valid.
The Spanish government remains firm that this will not be a legitimate vote no matter what happens.