According to the Interior Ministry 500 policeman were deployed to evict the 19 squatters and 1,000 extra police were on stand-by in the city “for other measures”. There has been wide criticism of what was seen as a disproportionate response from the state.
Four representatives of the Pizzeria Anarchia group were present at the press conference, which was held in a cafe near to the former squat.
"We’re not able to afford average rents," said one of the activists. They said that their occupation of the house was a "loud statement" against the practices of the building’s owner.
The building is currently owned by Castella GmbH. The anarchists were invited to move into the building in 2011 for six months, allegedly as part of a plan to persuade existing tenants to move out so the building could be developed.
"For us, it is not illegitimate to live in an empty house that is not being used," said one of the men, when asked whether the group would be seeking a similar place to squat.
"We are an association for the use of vacant spaces," another activist said. The former occupants of Pizzeria Anarchia still meet regularly, but are currently living in different places.
They said that their "Projekt Pizza" had been working well up until the eviction. They had made pizzas in exchange for donations, had held panel discussions and readings and had set up a bicycle repair shop. The remaining tenants in the building had always reacted positively to them, the activists said.
They said that the tenants had been harassed by the landlord, who turned off the gas without warning and had unexpectedly turned up in the night. “His attitude towards the tenants was the reason we stayed on for longer,” one activist said.
They denied that the squat had been booby trapped when the police came to evict them, but said that the barricades they had built proved difficult to break down. It took the police ten hours to clear the squat.
They also said they had not resisted arrest when the police did get to them. Fifteen men and four women were arrested for attempted aggravated result and resisting the state, but were released the next day.
Protestors disrupt traffic Sunday evening. Photo: Paul Gillingwater