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  • Spanish national police officers stand guard outside a port before the October 1 independence referendum, in Barcelona.

    Spanish national police officers stand guard outside a port before the October 1 independence referendum, in Barcelona. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 September 2017

While Catalans began to occupy the schools where voting will take place on Sunday, Spanish Police raided Catalan offices to disable voting equipment.

Police have warned occupied schools that they will be evicted at 6 a.m. local time on the eve of the referendum in Catalonia to decide its independence.

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They claim schools can't open their doors to activities at dawn if they are not offering a "public service." Organizers have said that 60,000 people are registered to participate in a sleepover at the schools, in order to show “peaceful resistance.”

Other polling places have also been ordered closed by 6:00 a.m. local time on Sunday, with the vote scheduled to take place by 9:00 a.m. In a police memo published by La Vanguardia, the police said force should only be used as a “last resort.”

"They told us that they would come along at different times because they are obliged to keep a record of the activities we do here," Alberto Garcia, one of the spokesman told El Pais.

Police haven't carried out any evictions or taken away material related to voting, such as ballot boxes, inside the schools. 

Of the 1,300 schools that have been designated as polling stations for the referendum, only 163 are occupied. At one Barcelona school, which is preparing to serve as a voting location, at least five or six families are camping out.

"Tonight we're going to sleep here again, if the first night we were 40, I think this night is going to be an overflow."

"We'll be here until the polling station can be opened. if they kick us out, what we are going to do, but at least in our conscience it will remain the fact of having given an example of the values of participation in public life, towards our children and the whole community towards Spain as a whole," Garcia said.

Parents and student of L'Estel have hung posters on the street inviting people for a "popular and free chocolate." Groups of parents in favor of the referendum are calling on other parents to occupy the schools at 5:00 a.m. so that the police won't evict them and close the polling centers.

Catalan independence supporters have started occupying polling stations ahead of Sunday's referendum vote at which time Spanish police have been ordered to block and clear out the polling places.

The Supreme Court ordered Friday to suspend the computer services that were activated within a plan to facilitate telematic voting on the day of the referendum, which was to be done through an application.

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Civil Guard agents entered the Center of Telecommunications and Information Technology in Catalonia to see if they have indeed blocked applications and computer services to be used on Sunday, as ordered by the court. The plan also includes a system for vote counting.

The Madrid-based Spanish government has declared the referendum illegal and unconstitutional, and threatened organizers to hold the vote with criminal charges.

On Saturday, Spanish police also raided the Catalan government's telecommunications and information technology center, according to La Vanguardia citing RAC1 radio station. The Spanish Civil Guard agents entered the building dressed as civilians, in order to disable voting machines.

In spite of massive, peaceful demonstrations escalating daily leading up to the vote, police have continued to crack down, attempting to confiscate voting materials and saying they will not allow people to access the polling stations.

While independence leaders in Barcelona have called on the European Union to condemn Madrid's “repressive action,” the European Commission has said they only respect Spain's “constitutional order.”

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