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Voices of the Catalan referendum in Barcelona

Photographs by José Colon/ MeMo for Yahoo News

Voices of the Catalan referendum in Barcelona

Photographs by José Colon/ MeMo for Yahoo News
Interviews conducted by Maria Jesus Albaladejo

Spain’s constitutional crisis reached a boiling point as Catalans in Barcelona and across the region headed to the polls in a highly-contested independence referendum and were met with a harsh police crackdown.

Several hundred people were injured in the confrontations with officers on Sunday, and dozens of polling centers were shut down.

Police acting on orders from the Spanish government to stop the voting across the country’s northeastern region clashed with Catalans who were attempting to stop them from confiscating ballots. Videos that emerged Sunday on social media appear to show police using brutal force on people attempting to cast their vote.

Catalonia’s health service said Sunday night that at least 844 people were injured today by the evening — nearly half of them in the Barcelona region, where police fired rubber bullets near at least one polling station, according to The Associated Press. Spanish authorities said 11 police officers were injured in the melees.

On Sunday, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria praised police in the region for acting with “firmness and proportionality.”

Spain’s government has said that the referendum is illegal, and the country’s Constitutional Court in early September ordered the planned vote suspended.

Catalan separatists called on millions of registered voters to defy these orders and head to the polls on Sunday anyway. (GMA)

Photographer José Colon was on the ground in Barcelona for Yahoo News and visited some polling stations to bring us a look and some words from those who voted today and why – and from some who came to support the right to vote and others who weren’t allowed to vote at all.

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See related slideshow: Violence erupts as Catalans vote on referendum on a split from Spain >>>

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