A Nigerian migrant who spends his days sweeping the streets of an Italian town in a bid to find something useful to do has been fined €350 because he did not have the permission of the local council.
It has become common in the last couple of years for migrants, who have few employment prospects, to clear litter and fallen leaves from the streets of Italian towns and cities. They say they would rather make a contribution to society than beg for money.
Passersby who appreciate their efforts, on streets that are often strewn with rubbish because of neglect by local authorities, drop coins into plastic cups or baseball caps that the asylum seekers leave on the pavement.
But the local police in Mestre, a town near Venice, took a dim view of the daily clean-up performed by a 29-year-old Nigerian migrant called Monday.
They accused him of “flagrantly cleaning the area without council authorisation” and issued him with a €350 fine.
A battered cardboard sign that Monday propped up on the pavement each morning read, in Italian: “Dear ladies and gentleman, I would like to integrate myself honestly in your society without asking for alms. I will keep your street clean and ask only a contribution for my work.”
An online appeal has been launched by a local lawyer, Matteo D’Angelo, to help pay the fine. Mr D’Angelo said that punishing Monday for keeping the streets clean was absurd.
“It’s an injustice,” he told The Telegraph. “This man was doing a civic duty. He deserves encouragement, not punishment.”
On Facebook, Mr D’Angelo said that the migrant had swept up “leaves that block the drains every time it rains, cigarette butts and all the rubbish that we civilised citizens throw on the ground, and the dog s— that owners fail to clear up. Woe betide a poor chap who tries to integrate himself.”
He said he hoped the police would reconsider their decision and withdraw the fine. If that happens, any money that has been collected would be donated to Monday, Mr D’Angelo said.
Italy has taken in tens of thousands of migrants who crossed the Mediterranean from Libya in recent years, but struggles to provide employment or language training for many of them.