Segregation wall declared an "artwork"
babelmed - 08/03/2015
In 2011 the mayor of Baia Mare in Romania constructed a concrete wall to cut off the Roma population. Later that year, Romania's national anti-discrimination body (NCCD) fined the town 6,000 lei (around 1500 euros) and ordered it to take the wall down. The mayor, Catalin Chereches, paid the fine and appealed the ruling. In 2013, the High Court of Cassation and Justice declared the wall illegal and sanctioned the mayor. But last November, instead of demolishing the wall, he invited art students from the Univerity of Cluj to paint graffiti on it, and then claimed he could no longer remove it; as it was now a work of art.
The mayor argues that the wall was erected to protect Roma children from being run over by cars, but the Roma people who live behind it don't agree.
The wall encloses three apartment buildings. The one in the middle has been ruled unfit for habitation; it has no heating or running water, and rubbish lies piled up to the first floor. 53 year-old Roma Alex Banta lives on the third floor of this building, with his wife and 14 children. "This is a wall built to hide our poverty" he says.
The community has only one use for the wall: "When we wash our carpets in the summer, it is perfect for drying them.”