Rome mayor orders removal of street art mural

Mural forms part of the WALLS urban regeneration project

The mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino has ordered the removal of a mural in the S. Basilio district because it features pigs in police uniforms.

The mural depicts the local patron saint Basilio breaking locks, and was created as part of the SanBa cultural project to regenerate the north-east suburb which is notorious for drug dealing and violence.

Rome's councillor for the development of the suburbs Paolo Masini has described the image as "illegal, offensive and defamatory."

Earlier this summer the area was enlivened by four gigantic murals on four buildings made available by the municipal housing authorities. The scheme was overseen by WALLS, an association that promotes the value of street art and the right of artists to decorate public spaces, with the full support of the city, including councillor Masini.

Until this week the project had been successful and universally popular but now finds itself in a storm of controversy.

The mural on Via Recanati was dedicated to Fabrizio Ceruso, a 19-year old who was shot dead 40 years ago during clashes with police following the evictions of 150 families squatting on nearby Via Montecarotto and Via Fabriano.

The city says that the mural is in violation of the criminal code as it contains messages deemed offensive towards the police. Reaction from residents is mixed, according to local media. Many agree that Ceruso should be commemorated but differ on whether the mural should be removed entirely or just modifed.

For full details on the SanBa project pick up a copy of the September issue of Wanted in Rome, available at newsstands around the city, while for more information on street art in the capital see here.