Police hurt in Rome protest against migrants

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A group of migrants disembark in Italy. Photo: Marcelo Paternostro / AFP
13:05 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Chairs and rocks were thrown at policemen as angry residents protested the arrival of 100 refugees in Casale San Nicola, a suburb in the outskirts of northern Rome, on Friday.

The coach carrying the migrants had to be escorted by an armoured police vehicle, but as it approached the protesters reacted violently, hurling rocks, chairs and abuse at the police.

Fourteen policemen were injured in the clashes and two protesters were arrested. The regional prefect, Franco Gabrielli, branded the scenes "a disgrace" and told La Repubblica that he hoped those arrested would be charged.

The violent scenes came just a day after homeowners in Treviso protested against migrants moving into their building.

Residents in Casale San Nicola, a northern Rome suburb, began the roadblock protest on Friday morning ahead of the arrival of the migrants at a refugee center that had been set up in an old school.

With the support of fascist group CasaPound, the residents blocked the street leading to the school.

“We won't let them pass,” one resident told La Repubblica earlier on Friday. “Casale San Nicola needs to remain Italian,” added Andrea Antononi, the vice president of CasaPound Italia.

According the newspaper, the driver of a Mini tried to break the roadblock by driving through, but failed.

But in doing so, the car knocked an elderly woman to the floor. “I was scared because it came at me from behind,” she was quoted as saying.

The local authorities first announced that 100 migrants would be transferred to the old school last week.

But not all local citizens opposed the plans.

Alberto Meoni, a resident, told La Repubblica of his hope, saying: “The site is perfect and this is going to be the most beautiful welcome city in Italy.”

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However, fascist group CasaPound immediately opposed the prefecture's decision and announced plans to protest against it.

“The arrival of 100 migrants into a community of 400 people is a complete invasion,” they stated in a note last week.

The scenes on the outskirts of Rome match similar protests held on Wednesday and Thursday in a suburb of Treviso, and suggests that animosity towards refugees is spreading as numbers rise.

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