From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Roma and Egyptians Protest Against Municipal Violence Outside Mayor Erion Veliaj’s Office

Members of the Roma and Egyptian communities gathered in front of the Municipality of Tirana yesterday to condemn police violence against them.

As reported by Citizens Channel, they held placards calling out the violence against a young man who was beaten by police after collecting rubbish from the side of the road. The brutal attack was caught on film and quickly went viral on social media.

The protestor demanded that the police officers who committed the assault be suspended. They also said that Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj should publicly apologise and distance himself from the incident. They added that the incident caught on film is one of many attacks and something that is normal for those that maintain their income by gathering recyclable materials.

They asked that their community be allowed to continue gathering items until a dignified solution is found that will guarantee their livelihood.

Romina Sefa, one of the protestors told the media that violence shouldn’t be representative of the Municipality or the Municipal Police.

“We condemn this act because it does not represent our city, above all, it should not represent the employees of the Municipality. They should have exemplary behavior with the poor, not oppress them.”

Protestors also awarded the Municipality a ‘trophy’ made out of plastic bottles. The title accompanying it was “Violator of the Year.”

“I award first prize to the Municipality of Tirana for high performance in exercising violence to the poor. 20 May, Tirana, 2020.”

They also accused the Albanian state of being racist and demanded equality in the way they are treated. Protestors also accused them of not giving them any assistance during the COVID-19 crisis and stopping them from working.

“You posed for videos and photos, that was it. You helped 10 people and left hundreds without food,” one protestor said.