On Friday night, Jennifer and I went out for dinner. Our destination was an Arab-run Tex Mex place on the other side of Piazzale Loreto, a block from the Egyptian consulate. In the year that we’ve lived here, it has become one of our favorite restaurants, even though it’s not exactly orthodox in its take on the cuisine. Nevertheless, its offered us welcome relief from pasta.

On our walk to the restaurant, we noticed a significant amount of police and military vehicles in the square. Large Carabinieri-marked vans with anti-riot mesh attached to the windows, and oversized, camouflage troop transports repeatedly whizzed by us. Their destination: Via Padova, the site of fierce street battles between Latinos and North Africans two weeks before.

Unnerved by all the activity, following dinner, we took a shortcut home through the Loreto tube station, which you can walk from one side of the square to the other. Its normally bustling passages were empty. Gone were the usual south Asian street vendors hawking keffiyehs and Obama-branded beanies. A trail of blood extended down the floor, stopping, suddenly, fifty or so feet later.

A couple of hours later, I took Pixel out for his last walk. Security personnel continued to drive around the square, periodically turning off onto Via Padova, sometimes onto Corso Buenos Aires, where an ambulance stood parked, lights flashing. From what I could see, the police vans were full. It was difficult to see  through the plastic windows of the army vehicles.

The Carabinieri van, above, was positioned at the entrance to Via Padova.

March 2010


    1. The activity followed race riots that started the second week in February, if I remember correctly. An Egyptian teen had been killed by a Latino gang. The government responded by rounding up illegal immigrants in the Via Padova neighborhood, using a combination of police, Carabinieri and soldiers. The operation lasted something like two weeks.

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