Parents and students occupy schools to defend Catalan vote
Students and parents have occupied schools throughout Catalonia in an attempt to secure them as voting centers ahead of Sunday's proposed independence referendum, according to local media on Saturday.
Parents, children and activists in Catalonia are starting a day of activities after spending the night in schools designated as polling stations for Sunday's vote on the region's independence from Spain.
Yoga sessions, film screenings and picnics have been organized at some of the 2,315 voting facilities that referendum supporters are trying to keep police from shutting down.
The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal and the country's Constitutional Court has suspended it, but regional separatists have vowed to go ahead with balloting.
The Catalan police force is under orders to empty the buildings by early Sunday. Officers have been directed to refrain from using violence to remove parents and students.
How the 17,000 regional officers respond to the vacate order is seen as key to the success or failure of the planned vote.
POLICE GIVE DEADLINE TO CATALAN SCHOOL OCCUPIERS
Catalan police are telling parents that they must vacate schools so officers can carry out orders to impede a referendum on Catalonia's secession from Spain.
Quim Roy, a father of two daughters in Barcelona, says police officers told the few dozen parents and children at the Congres-Indians primary school they can't display campaign materials in favor of the disputed referendum and must leave the premises by 6.00 a.m. Sunday.
Parents supporting the referendum have organized across the northeastern region to occupy schools throughout the weekend so they can be used as polling stations come Sunday morning.
The vote has been suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court and police have received orders to stop ballots from being cast on Sunday. The regional government has pressed ahead and called on residents to vote.