«Total chaos!» At midnight on 30th March, this text message was sent from one of the detainees inside Ponte Galeria, the immigration prison in Rome, Italy. An hour prior to the text, a riot inside the detention centre had started: mattresses were burnt and two huge fires reached the infirmary. Some of the detainees were on the roof, while others broke three or four doors and reached the outer fence. The detention centre was soon full of riot police. Gunshots were heard around 1.20am.
There riot has allegedly caused €200,000 worth of damage; a hydraulic and electric system was put out of order; four people escaped and an unknown number of detainees were moved to other detention centres, while 17 were arrested. They are due in court on 31st March.
Since the 1st March, when the Red Cross handed over the management of the detention centre to another organisation, detainees have been on hunger strike and several riots have taken place over since then. They were rebelling against the use of violence and the daily abuse at the hands of the police with the complicity of the centre’s management.
The detainees are forced to live in unbearable conditions: unsanitary and unhealthy environment, off food, drugs (including Valium) put in the food and drinks. The riots and other forms of protest, such as self-harm, are the desperate response of people who have been imprisoned for up to six months only because they do not have the right documents.
On Wendsday, 31 March, at 8:30 am, there will be a sit-in at piazzale Clodio, in front of the court, in solidarity with the detainees who tried to rebel.
At 19:00, there will be a meeting at the Forte Prenestino squat for organising an immediate collective response to what is happening at Ponte Galeria and beyond.