ITALY: The siege of Palazzo Chigi: from the top of the police wagon
Today a new step after the October 19 Porta Pia camp was made by the Italian movement. A new siege was called beneath the capitol’s power seats – namely the State-Regions roundtable, that was meant to work out a national housing policy decree – at a time in which rampant speculation and evictions gravely undermine the basic housing rights of the citizens.
In the early morning the Housing Struggle Movements in Rome managed to block and postpone three evictions in different parts of the city, while similar initiatives of solidarity were carried out in the cities of Milan, Turin and others. In Cosenza a former monastery in the city’s downtown was occupied by needy families, and in Palermo homeless people, precarious workers and social centres activists camped outside the town hall, with the mayor nowhere to be seen. In Pisa, activists from the social movements occupied an abandoned cinema, staging a roundtable on the crisis and livestreaming the events in Rome.
The march started out in the central parliamentary square Piazza Montecitorio, heading towards the via stamperia building in which the State-Regions roundtable was taking place. Police wagons on its way were pelted with eggs, smoke bombs and various objects by the demonstrators which rallied behind the big banner already shown on October 19: “[We want] Only one great work “House and income for everyone!”. The migrants, evicted and homeless people at the head of the march then approached and confronted the heavily armed police forces in Via del Tritone, managing to push them back on their wagons. Relentlessy, demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta masks started to climb up the wagons, and the police reacted with truncheons and tear gases, some of the latter being thrown by an helicopter on the backside of the crowd, packed with families and children.
After a brief retreat towards the famous Trevi fountain, and withstanding the noxious gases, the demonstrators advanced once more, confronting again the police in the narrow Via dei Crocifori. Then the agents retreated, giving way for the march to get back in Piazza di Montecitorio; where, after the detention of 9 people was reported, a permanent camp began.
The outrage for the many wounded or intoxicated people echoed on the web: “today, on October 31 in Rome there is a group of armed thugs beating up homeless citizens”; “strong with the weak and doormats with the strong”; “police charges demonstrators, the media are worried about the health of the police wagons”, and so on. But actually, the demonstrators’ security and main body did never falter against their opponents, and stood firm in demanding the release of the imprisoned comrades. Even after the government roundtable ended in useless declarations and sops, completely deaf to the movements’ call for an immediate halt of evictions, a mellow mood of communion and comradeship ensued, breaking up the loneliness produced by the crisis.
The struggle continues, as this movement grows and cements itself as the only true opposition to the Italian government of austerity and crisis. And, by breaking up any mournful and resigned past demonstration habits with righteous rage and cunning self-organization, it can even manage to look down on the power for a short while, from the top of a police wagon.