A squatted youth centre Ateneu Popular de Sarrià in Barcelona was burned ‘beyond repair’ in a fascist attack at early hours last Thursday. Five fire brigade teams were dispatched at around 4am, and the fire was effectively extinguished by 8am. The structure of the building has suffered significant damage. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but some neighbors in an adjacent building have been evacuated.
The centre was operating since December 2015, when a group of young people occupied the farmhouse on Calle Hort de la Vila 29, owned by the City Council and converted it to a self-managed youth and cultural centre, connected to left-wing political activism.
It isn’t the first time the centre is attacked by the far right: prior to the recent attack, it was being rebuild after the another incident from November last year, when a group of fascists managed to enter the premises by breaking the back window and caused serious damage, leaving behind broken furniture, torn posters, and walls covered in graffiti. The attacks at the centre have intensified since the independence referendum was held on 1st October 2017.
Last week’s attack occurred at the same day as a unionist rally in Plaza Artós. Apart for unrepairable fire damage, the building again was covered in fascist graffiti. Swastikas and ”Death to the CDR”. CDR, or Referendum Defense Committees, are the neighborhood groups set up in Catalonia prior to the Catalan independence referendum.
In solidarity with the Athenian youth centre, several neighborhood entities have offered support and space to hold meetings and activities that were held at the youth centre until now. The radical-left parliamentary party, the CUP, declared its solidarity with the Ateneu, while CUP Barcelona town councilor Eulàlia Reguant said she regretted “the fascism in the city that does not go away”.
Photo: Ateneu Popular de Sarrià