Police clash with activists over community centre closures

Clashes during the evacuation of Labas community centre

BOLOGNA- Brawls and clashes between police and activists after a community centre was evacuated, local authorities have reported. The former Masini Barracks in via Orfeo, located in the south-east area of Bologna’s historical centre, has been occupied by the political collective Làbas since 2012 and transformed into a community centre.

 The structure was surrounded at 8am on Tuesday morning by law enforcement officers armed with anti-riot equipment in armoured vehicles. Dozens of activists sat outside the building’s gate from the early hours of the morning as a form of passive resistance, whilst others barricaded the inside. When the police got closer to the blockade ready to break up the line, the activists reacted and scuffles broke out. The disorder lasted only a short time for the police managed to enter the structure within a few minutes.

 The tension then continued into the nearby Baraccano square, where evacuated activists had gathered. The fire service was called to the ex-barracks to treat various hotbeds; some Làbas representatives are believed to have set fire to some straw bales inside the courtyard, stimulating lots of smoke.

 It was then reported that a following clash broke out between police and workers at the community workshop Crash, which was consequently closed.

 The occupied spaces have hosted various social projects and activities over the last few years, for example on the housing deprivation problem, which have been praised by the area’s residents. They are popular spaces, which forced The Mayor of Bologna Virginio Merola to deny a role in the police action. He said in response to the clashes and centre closures: “It isn’t my responsibility, it’s the magistrates’ initiative. Now we will find an alternative solution.”