Migrants and leftists clashed with riot police Monday as authorities in the Italian capital moved to clear a makeshift housing area occupied by 340 people.
The operation to evacuate the squatters living in the former agricultural institute on the Via Cardinal Capranica began in the early hours of Monday morning seeing 150 police officers in riot gear along with armoured vehicles and a helicopter take part, Il Giornale reports.
While most of the 340 people living in the squatter camp left the building around 50 people resisted the officers shouting, “we won’t leave, you bastards” to the police.
Some of those occupying the building set fires in order to stop police from gaining access, with one unidentified young woman shouting through a megaphone, calling on others to fight back and resist the police.
According to news agency ANSA, squatters threw objects from the windows of the former school at several officers, leading the police to deploy a water cannon.
The resistance, which ended after several hours, was sharply criticised by Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini who said: “No tolerance and no leniency for the violent who occupy, set fire to, and attack the police forces. The building is unsafe. Immigrants and social centres that make the barricades put the safety of women and children at risk. Roman citizens and Italians deserve lawfulness.”
Former Olympic Village Becomes Migrant No-Go Zone Run by Far-Left Groups https://t.co/obfsBis0hg
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“From words to deeds: as promised, no tolerance for occupations and violence. For years the building cleared this morning in Rome was marked as dangerous: we are freeing buildings following objective criteria,” Salvini added.
Squats in Italy are often run by far-left extremist groups known as social centres and are used to house illegal migrants, one such squat existing at the former Olympic Village in Turin where the area has become a no-go zone.
In other parts of the country, entire towns have been taken over by illegal migrant criminal gangs. The former resort town of Castel Volturno has been taken over to such an extent that it is estimated 20,000 of the 30,000 residents are migrants.
“We live in an abandoned place, we cannot accept all these people because we do not have the strength or the means to educate them. We are not in Africa, but in a civilised country, and these people need to be educated,” one resident of the town, originally from Africa, said.