Police arrived at the scene to keep the locals and the Roma apart as the Roma left on Thursday evening with their caravans and vehicles, but some of the locals returned later to set fire to any belongings left behind.
The locals, who blamed the Roma for burglaries in the area that had happened since their arrival a few days earlier, had warned authorities that if they were not evicted they would do it themselves.
“It’s no surprise this has happened,” said Caroline Godard of Rencontres Tsiganes, a group set up to help Roma. “There is a climate of tension that is being fanned. We are moving towards a war between the poor.”
The Marseille branch of France’s Human Rights League (LDH) said that although there was no violence and noone was injured in Thursday’s incidents, “one can fear the worst” for the future.