Striking workers, students, and hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Barcelona and other Catalan towns Tuesday to protest police violence, adding pressure to Spain's unprecedented political crisis as central authorities mull how to respond to separatists' plans to push ahead with secession. Separatist leaders in Catalonia have vowed to declare independence in the northeastern region this week following Sunday's disputed referendum. The city's urban guard said that 700,000 people joined Tuesday afternoon's marches in Barcelona, after thousands more took part in scattered protests in the morning.
With protesters still in the streets, Spain's King Felipe VI made a television appearance in the evening and accused authorities in Catalonia of deliberately bending the law and undermining coexistence, adding that the Spanish state has a duty to ensure unity and constitutional order in the country, the AP reports. "Today, Catalan society is fractured," Felipe said in his address to the nation. The central government has declared the vote illegal and invalid, but Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has not disclosed what his response to the independence bid will be, or if he intends to go as far as suspending the region's self-government. (Here's what could happen if Catalonia declares independence.)