Spanish police have sealed off half of Catalonia’s polling centres and are hoping to empty them all before the banned referendum is due to take place on Sunday.
But with weeks of antagonism and tension coming to a head, neither side is showing signs of backing down from a confrontation that has pitched Spain into a political and constitutional crisis.
Families were camping out a school in Barcelona’s Gracia neighbourhood on Saturday afternoon, hoping to prevent police closing it down.
It’s one of over a hundred and sixty schools separatist activists hope to be used as polling stations in a vote which has already been ruled as unconstitutional.
The police came once and they were very polite,” Giselle, a local woman at the school in Gracia neighbourhood, said. “The strategy is to smile and have as many people as possible outside the schools. The more the better,” Hector, another local resident, said.
Police vehicles and thousands of police officers have been ferried into Barcelona by the Madrid government.