“We don’t want the gypsies here, that house should have gone to an Italian,” said residents of Casal Bruciato.
One of the residents, Nunzia, told reporters: “Better an Italian than the Roma… the Roma had better not return or we’ll block everything.” The house had been given to a girl with a six-month-old baby and before she was given the accommodation, “she was sleeping in her car,” said Nunzia.
According to Italian judicial authorities, the Rome residents shouted “racist abuse” at Roma families last week being temporarily housed in their neighborhood, The Local reported.
Rome prosecutors then opened an investigation into criminal damage and threats with racial hatred an aggravating factor, during protests in the Torre Maura district on Tuesday against the transfer of 60 Roma people to a reception centre there.
Some 200 local people, supported the CasaPound and Forza Nuova parties, took to the streets in the protest, overturning trash bins, setting them alight, and trampling on bread.
“No to any form of violence, but no also to whoever dumps all the problems on the suburbs”, said Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, while promising to close all Roma camps.
The situation in Torre Maura, east of Rome, got out of hand on Tuesday night when around 70 Roma, including 30 children, were brought in.
“Get lost, if you come out, we’ll kill you”, one protester shouted, the La Stampa newspaper reported. “We should burn them”, one person shouted.
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi, from the Five Star Movement, initially refused to move the Roma, but changed her mind when the protests escalated.
Non-profit organisation Associazione 21 Luglio says there are between 120 000 and 180 000 Roma, Sinti and traveller people in Italy.
The Roma make up at most 0,3 percent of Italy’s population, but they have been met with extreme hostility from the general public and are often blamed for a variety of crimes. Notably, two of Rome’s major organised crime gangs are headed by Sinti families that control drug distribution in the city.