Protesters in the Catalan town of Mataró responded to the mayor’s ban on yellow crosses in the beach—an installation in support of pro-independence leaders in jail or abroad—by laying down dozens of towels imitating the shape of a cross.

A man was temporarily detained by police officers and escorted off the beach when he was trying to damage the installation. Pro-independence supporters formed a circle around the man to stop him.

Yellow crosses and symbols in support of jailed leaders have been at the center of recent tensions between pro-independence supporters and unionists. On Monday, five people were injured after a group in balaclavas removed yellow crosses from the beach of Canet de Mar, north of Barcelona and close to Mataró. Around thirty individuals were identified by police.

Pro-independence supporters announced that they were planning to set up a similar installation in Mataró on Sunday, and unionist groups responded by saying that they would again remove the yellow crosses. David Bote, Mataró’s Socialist mayor, said police officers would make sure nobody planted yellow crosses in the beach.

Battle of symbols

Bote was criticised by pro-independence parties in Mataró. A local councilor for far-left CUP, Juli Cuéllar, dismissed the mayor’s decision as “partisan.” Montse Morón, from VoleMataró, a local party close to left-wing Podem, urged Bote to be “a mayor for everybody.”

Lorena Roldán, an MP for unionist Ciutadans, took on pro-independence parties and accused them of believing that Catalonia belongs to them. “Squares, streets and beaches belong to everybody” she said.

The controversy over the yellow crosses is part of an ongoing battle of symbols in Catalonia. Last Friday, a senior Ciutadans MP removed a yellow ribbon from the empty government seats in parliament. The speaker suspended the plenary session after the MP refused to put it back.

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