The eviction of the last remaining housing occupation in Bologna – around 100 people, 34
of them children, living in a building in Via Mario De Maria, in the working-class neighborhood of Bolognina – started at dawn on October 11. The police and the carabinieri surrounded the block and raided the building, beating people and even using pepper spray, the residents say.
The newly elected council member for the housing emergency, Virginia Gieri, said that the residents “came out peacefully”, but the residents and witnesses say something different. One man passed out after he was beaten and another person was injured.
Gieri, a loyal follower of Renzi, was appointed to the delicate job of being in charge of the housing emergency in Bologna, after the last incumbent, Amelia Frascaroli, was considered to be too soft. Renzi’s government is holding a line of absolute repression against housing occupations, and PD local authorities all over Italy are toeing this line, even in places – like Bologna – where the party claims to be more “tolerant” and to have a welfare-oriented tradition.
This eviction is the latest in a wave that reached its peak of violence about a year ago, with the eviction of the Ex-Telecom building, where more than 300 people – 100 of them minors – were living. Large numbers of people in the city were shocked by the event at the time, and by the extreme violence of the police. 200 police officers and 40 trucks were used to besiege the building and to keep away the protesters, while the local government claimed to be as upset as the citizens by an action that was, they said, decided by the Prefecture (so that is by the national government) and by the police.
No voice inside the local government has been raised against this latest eviction, though, and even people in the city seem to be indifferent, perhaps related to the fact that no journalist was allowed to get close to the building. The right to report, said a carabiniere to a journalist, was suspended.
The Via Mario De Maria occupation, such as the Ex-Telecom occupation, was organized by Social Log, a collective in the autonomous movement. Members of the collective and other protesters held a demonstration in solidarity with the residents, and they were also attacked by the police.
After some negotiation, all the residents were placed in hotels, residences or shelters, but as other similar events have proved, this is just a temporary solution. Bologna is facing a severe housing emergency, with a growing mass of people who cannot pay the high rents demanded, too high thanks to the lack of a serious public housing policy and to real estate speculation. The gentrification of many neighborhoods is changing the face of the city, with an economy that was centered around industry now switching to tourism and international exhibitions (expos).