Rome police blast migrants with water cannon

ROME - The tension has been rising in the Piazza dell’Indipendenza since Saturday, when about 100 immigrants were forcibly removed from a nearby building on Via Curtatone. The immigrants have been camping out in the gardens for days. Rocks, bottles and canisters have been thrown, and a water cannon has even been used. 

 The Police Headquarters in Rome said that "the intervention has become urgent and necessary after yesterday's refusal to accept housing accommodation offered by the City of Rome, but above all for the high risk information received, that the migrants have gas cylinders and Molotov cocktails." The police forces have said the migrants threw stones and bottles at them as well as gas canisters. “The use of the hydrant avoided the flammable liquids to be set alight,” concluded the police. 

 According to Doctors without Borders: "The violent police actions this morning, in the centre of the city of Rome, has caused many wounded in a group of 100 refugees, including many women, the elderly and the disabled. The Msf team on site treated in a few hours 13 people, most women.”

 “We called ambulances for five injured people. Others had fractures and tears caused by the coercive methods used by law enforcement officers,” says Francesco Di Donna, medical coordinator of Msf, present at Piazza dell’Indipendenza. The Msf operators intervened directly after a woman was struck by the jet of a hydrant, she fell and fainted. There were no ambulances in place at the time of the disorder," he continues.

Policemen were reportedly told "If they pull out something, break their arms." A notice states that in the "context of a proper behavior of law enforcement officers committed to the evacuation of the building on Via Curtatonr, which was abusively occupied." Rome's police headquarters have opened a "formal Investigation "after the" viewing of the films published on some sites that include an officer inviting to his men to use violent methods in the event of rock-throwing ". 

 According to Msf, people were camped in precarious hygienic conditions and limited access to the five-day toilet. "It is a shame that the lack of alternative housing solutions has led to a situation of violence," said Tommaso Fabbri, head of MSF projects in Italy. "Most of the people from the Msf team, present on Monday at Independence Square to provide medical and psychological support to people who needed it, have refugee status.”

 After tensions with police, the immigrants moved to Via Solferino to head towards Termini station. At around 1 o'clock the refugees began blocking the traffic between the station and Via Cavour screaming "Italy ashamed" and waving a poster with the words "Stop evictions.”

 Immigrants have been camped for days in the Piazza dell’Indipendenza, in the centre of Rome, after the eviction of the nearby building on Via Curtatone, occupied for four years by some 400 Ethiopian and Eritrean asylum seekers and 35 minors. Independence Square is still closed and guarded by law enforcement. Yesterday there was a summit in the Roman Prefecture to find a housing solution for occupants. In the afternoon from the City of Rome announced that they had offered beds to the immigrants camped in flower beds in the Torre Maura and Boccea areas which they had refused.