The mayor of a small Italian town has ordered a pile of earth be dumped on the road leading to a residence to stop more migrants moving in.
Vitulano, in the province of Benevento in southern Italy, already hosts a SPRAR (System for the Protection of Refugees and Asylum Seekers) centre housing 30 migrants, but Mayor Raffaele Scarinzi took exception when the government tried to move a further 34 migrants into a private residence he said was suitable only for 12.
In protest, he ordered a load of earth to be dumped on the road leading to the residence to prevent the migrants from reaching it.
Mr Scarinzi told la Repubblica: “We are starting to get too many [migrants] and their presence worries the community. Friday saw a succession of street protests.
“I pointed out that we could not accommodate 34 people in a structure built for 12, but [the authorities] did not listen to me. So I closed the road.”
He said the order to fill the road with earth was “just a signal, a way of saying that the order had to be respected. When you close a road they always put blocks or hurdles up to enforce the ban. However, it only lasted a few minutes.”
He denied accusations that the people of Vitulano were racist for not wanting the extra migrants, saying: “Vitulano is a friendly town, but the addition of migrants must be sustainable. At the SPRAR shelter, refugees are treated by us better than they are anywhere else. We’ve had migrants on the local football teams; one of them starred in a movie filmed here in September.
“But a circular from the [local] Prefect prevents the opening of other facilities where there is already a SPRAR centre. If the state does not respect its agreements, it is natural for people to protest.”
Mayor Scarinzi’s actions earned him the praise of the leader of Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini, who wrote on Facebook following the protest:
“The mayor of Vitulano (in the province of Benevento) closed a road, dumping a load of earth to block it and prevent the arrival of new immigrants.
“For some bleeding hearts what he did was wrong, but I think he did good! The mayor is with the Democratic Party. Is he a racist populist too?”
Salvini has offered to visit Vitulano, an offer Scarinzi thanked him for but added: “there’s no need to visit regarding this specific issue. If he wants to come and find out more about us, he is always welcome.”