Simultaneous demonstrations of hundreds of thousans of people, called by the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural in Lleida, Berga, Girona, Tarragona and Barcelona were larger than expected, a great day of civic protest. In Barcelona, crowds of families and neighbors joined together in the streets to form a group that stretched for nearly two kilometers. In Lleida, according to organizers, the crowd was six times bigger than the largest manifestation that had ever taken place in the city. In Berga, there were more people present than at the patron saint party, when the entire town shows up. In Salt (near Girona) with the assistance of President Puigdemont, the wide promenade of Països Catalans was filled. And in Tarragona, Rambla Nova exceeded numbers seen in any previous manifestation.
Once again this year, the organization was civil, festive, and massive. The event started promptly at the chimes of 17:14 (in commemoration of the fall of Barcelona in 1714 by Franc-Spanish troops) and kept a rapid pace, with presentations by famous Catalan authors, actresses, writers, and film directors. Over 800,000 spectators held huge yellow paper spots a foot in diameter, beating to the solemn traditional music of La Patum, a UNESCO recognized Catalan celebration.
In the speeches that preceded the national hymn “The Harvesters”, Jordi Cuixart (president of Ómnium Cultural) spoke of solidarity with the defendants of 9N (those charged by the Spanish Chief Justice for organizing the referendum of November 2014), and those who have died. He evoked the historic protest of 1976 in Sant Boi, the first demonstration allowed after the death of Franco, and Francesc Candel (champion of the integration of immigrants and Spanish-speakers), and called for unity to build the Catalan Republic, a country for everybody, where the citizens’ effort is rewarded by quality government and services.
“We want to stop creating historic demonstration and start writing the day by day of the Catalan Republic,” he said.
Jordi Sanchez (president of the National Catalan Association) spoke of a new unique 11th of September: “Contrary to the predictions of the usual suspects, we have once again made history.” He asked the parties to unite for the independence referendum, as people have united today this 11th of September in defense of the Catalan institutions. “Now there is a majority for independence, he said. We have reached the final stage, where we will need everyone to win a Catalan Republic, and to take our place among the free nations of the world. Together as a team we can win, over and above ideologies though we are sometimes, opposed. We are united in the incorruptible desire to achieve freedom. There is no greater unity than that of the people. ”
The event culminated with the simultaneous singing at all five sites of “The Harvesters”, lead on stage by the Sant Jordi Chorus of Barcelona, voices carrying proudly across Catalonia.