AMONG the thousands of yellow and red Catalan banners bedecking buildings, protesters and pretty much every available space this week in Barcelona, a notable number of blue and white Saltires were also waving high.

In a city still reeling from a brutal police crackdown on those organising and participating in Sunday’s independence referendum – a poll declared illegal by the Spanish government – Scotland and its flag is being held aloft as an example of how demands for independence can be dealt with in a peaceful and democratic manner.

“My wife made this flag. The solidarity [with Scotland] is very important to us,” said Carles, a 42-year-old teacher from Barcelona.

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He was one of those carrying a Saltire as police helicopters burred overhead during a mass protest against police brutality which saw the city grind to a halt in a hastily organised general strike and thousands take to the streets as outrage turned to defiance on Tuesday.

“It is very similar in a lot of ways. Catalonia has a long history of European values. We think it is normal in 2017 to let people vote,” he said, comparing Scotland’s poll with the crackdown in Catalonia.

What happened in Scotland offered hope to the people of Catalonia, he added, but should also act as guide for how Spain should react.

But he added that the European Union’s response so far had given little reason for optimism that wider support would be forthcoming from other European neighbours.

“Like Scotland, we are already part of the EU,” he said.

“We are a nation, a sovereign nation and the Spanish government does not want to negotiate,” he said, voicing an expression of frustration that echoes round the city right now.

His views were backed by Stephanie, a 27-year-old teacher who expressed concern about what she, and many in Catalonia saw as biased portrayals of events surrounding the referendum on Spanish national news.

“The Spanish press has manipulated everything. What they showed was nothing like our experience,” she said.

“What I really want is an official dialogue between the two sides, like you had in Scotland. We don’t want war or conflict.”

Like others spoken to by The Herald, she was uncertain of what would happen next, and doubted the EU would offer much by way of support to Catalonian demands for an official referendum.

But she said there had been a significant shift since Sunday’s violence and people would not accept the status quo.

“Some thing happened on Sunday," Stephanie said. "The government will have to react.”

Despite the outrage over Sunday’s Spanish police response which saw elderly voters struck, people dragged off by their hair and one person lose an eye to a rubber bullet, the atmosphere in Barcelona has progressed from anger to a buoyant defiance, and a determination that protests will remain peaceful.

“We wish the EU had stepped in before this happened so we could have had a proper referendum", said 29-year-old scientific researcher Jofre.

"But perhaps now the [Catalan] government will declare independence and another country could step in to mediate.

“What we are seeing now is unity against human rights abuses and police violence.

"Even people who don’t want independence, who want to stay in Spain, don’t want this Spain.”

Veteran Catalonian independence supporters also noted that Sunday had marked a significant moment in their history.

Josep, 81, said he and his family had been independence supporters “since always”.

“Three-hundred years ago we were annexed to Spain by force. If you picked up a newspaper 100 years ago you would find the same demand [for independence].

“But on Sunday it was different. In the past Spain would use arms to suppress people, now in Europe that is not possible, but they use the police.

“What has changed is the people lose their fear. Look, that is a police helicopter, but see all these people protesting.”

As Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont said his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next” to declare independence, Josep too said he felt little hope the EU will step in.

He agreed with his friend Ferran, 64, who pointed to the lack of support Scotland had received from many EU nations ahead of its referendum.

“Actually the EU is a club of states, and they don’t admit nations," he said.

"We want to be part of the EU and if they send us away we will wait.

"With our industrial, our commercial situation we can do the same as Norway or Switzerland. It will not be a problem.”

Independence supporter Joan, 31, said his twitter feed was full of comparisons to Scotland, three years after it held a referendum made possible by the Edinburgh Agreement between Westminster and Holyrood.

He said: “The difference is that I don’t think people here worry so much about being in the EU. We want to be in, but if they don’t let us, we will go ahead anyway.”