Authorities said on Friday that they would halt demolition plans and attempt to reach a peaceful solution after widespread outrage at the forced eviction of Can Vies, a public building that has been occupied by leftist groups for 17 years.
Police said they had arrested a total of 59 people in four nights of violent clashes after squatters were evicted and demolition began on the building, which is owned by Barcelona city transport authorities, but has been used as an unofficial civic centre since 1997.
The streets of the working-class district of Barcelona have seen pitched battles between protesters and riot police after thousands gathered to stage night time demonstrations against the closure of Can Vies.
Rioters hurled bottles and stones at police barricades, burnt bins and broke windows during the protests. Banks have also been attacked and the excavator used to demolish the Can Vies building set on fire.
Baton-wielding riot police charged protesters, fired foam bullets across the barricades and attempted to disperse the crowd using a high-pitched horn.
The violent disturbances were blamed on a small group of troublemakers but the protest has won support from across Spain and peaceful demonstrations to show solidarity have been planned in other cities this weekend.
"These protests are not just about the eviction. The eviction was just one more blow after the crisis," a Can Vies representative said.
"The people are fed up of taking blows and in the end they explode."
The abandoned property was occupied in 1997 by left-wing activists who used it to host concerts, training courses and other community activities in the rundown area of the Catalan capital.
But the transport authority which owns the property wants to redevelop the area and turn it into a park.
Police forcibly cleared the house on Monday following a court order issued after negotiations broke down between the city and the squatters.
After an emergency meeting Barcelona city council said it would “attempt new dialogue” with neighbourhood leaders to reach a peaceful accord.
Why can’t this happen here in the US when our community centers are demolished? When our neighborhoods are gentrified? When our tent cities are evacuated?