Europe means diversity. Stroll down streets as far away from one another as Stuttgart’s Koenigstrasse, Milan’s Corso Buenos Aires, or London’s Oxford Circus, and the insight will be the same. Everyone is from somewhere else. Chinese, Arab, Nigerian, Indian, Roma. The mix tends to be relatively consistent, if not exactly the same.

It’s not exactly new, either. Mass immigration to Europe has been a feature of continental life for nearly three decades, in some cases, going back four. To even leave it there would be disingenuous, as there were various waves of large scale labor and post-colonial migrations within and to what’s now the EU, starting as early as the 1950s.

What is new, however, is the animus directed at these post-WWII communities. Frequently linked to the now seven-year-old economic crisis, today’s anti-diversity politics has found its gold in the collapse of European national economies, and a reorganized, better dressed extreme right. Hence the rise of populist parties such as Britsin’s UKIP and France’s National Front, to positions of leadership in national politics.

The following flyers attest to the horror felt by many Europeans at the new normal. Found in Brussels and Milan, in immigrant heavy areas (Matonge and Piazzale Loreto) between 2009 and 2015, they’re expressions of solidarity with illegal immigrants, and their plight at the hands of security forces. New to Souciant: The Milanese flyer is written in English, most likely aimed at the broad swathe of immigrants making the city their home.

The lead photograph is filled with two sleeping migrants, likely Roma, from the Balkans, sleeping early in the morning, in the appropriately named Karl-Marx-Platz, in Berlin. Part of a recent wave of Roma migration to the city, it’s not uncommon to find them camped out in city squares during the summer. Needless to say, they personify the subjects addressed by these flyers.

Warning to migrants. Brussels, October 11.

Warning to migrants. Brussels, October 11.

 

!!! ** Caution – Police everywhere!
Justice nowhere!

*From 13 October to 26 October there will be a pan-European Union police operation called “mos mairum”. During these two weeks, 18, 000 police officers will hunt down illegal immigrants.

Their goal: find the migration routes and stop the movement of people.

Please warn all illegal immigrants! There will be more checks in trains, stations, airports, motorways and between European borders.*

*Against the European fortress! *

* Nobody is illegal! *

Without Papers. Milano. June 2009.

Without Papers, Piazzale Loreto. Milan, June 2009.

For those who are without “permesso di soggiorno”

*Never go around with your passport. If police find it, they cannot send you back to your home country.

*Be careful with public transport ticket controllers. If they catch you without a ticket, they may even call the police.

*Learn the phone number of friends you trust. You can call them from inside CPT and they can call you a lawyer.

*Always bring public phone cards with you, and keep your mobile charged, or even take the battery charger with you.

*Avoid mobiles with cameras: sometimes police destroy them before you enter a CPT because they do not want recording of what happens inside and cannot find a lawyer. We answer in Italian.

*This is an emergency phone number. Call it only if you are detained in a CPT

– comitato antirazzista milano

 

Translation from the French by Kit Rickard. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.