Neo-fascist group clashes with police at ‘No green Pass’ protest; attack on trade union’s premises
Violent protests against COVID-19 measures, neo-fascists attack CGIL in Rome
On 9th October 2021, a group of protesters – including members of the neo-fascist group Forza Nuova – attacked and managed to enter the offices of the national trade union association, CGIL, in Rome. During the attack the trade union's premises were damaged. The group was participating in an authorised protest against a newly-introduced national COVID-19 measure requiring workers to show a so-called Green Pass to be able to access their place of work. The protest, which was attended by 10,000 people, turned violent when a group of protesters tried to break through the police cordons. As a result of the clashes between the demonstrators and police, 13 people were arrested, 600 were identified by police and 38 agents were reported to have been hurt. The police deployed water cannon and used tear gas, while the protesters used firecrackers and cherry bombs.
Some of the participants in the protest continued the march towards Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the Council of Ministers and the official residence of the Prime Minister of Italy, and clashes took place in the surrounding area as well.
Maurizio Landini, CGIL Secretary General, called an anti-fascist national demonstration to respond to the outrage on 16th October 2021, which was co-organised with Cisl and Uil, two other major Italian trade union associations.
In Milan, another so-called “No Green pass” protest was organised on 9th October 2021. Around 5,000 people gathered without official permission by local authorities. The group tried to prevent trains from operating in Milan Central Station. Clashes between protesters and police took place on this occasion: a protester was arrested for attacking an officer and 50 people were denounced for violent behaviour.
Plain-clothed police officer hits protester at "No Green Pass" demonstration:
During the protests against COVID-19 measures that took place on 9th October 2021 in Rome, a police officer in plain clothes attacked and repeatedly hit a protester. A video of the events circulated on social media. The police officer eventually self-reported due to his “excessive reaction” and was temporarily suspended while investigations are ongoing. The minister of the interior, Luciana Lamorgese, intervened in Parliament to report on the events. In her speech she excluded the possibility that police agents had infiltrated the protesters, although the video also shows a police agent joining the protesters while pushing a police car in an attempt to overturn it. The minister explained that the officer was making sure that the car was stable enough and would not tip over.
Fascist songs at "No Green Pass" rally in Milan:
On 25th October 2021, another demonstration against the introduction of the so- called “Green pass” took place in Milan. Tensions arose when a group of far-right demonstrators aged between 28 and 45 years old - members of Do.Ra, a well-known fascist organisation - started to sing fascist songs. They were reported for promotion of fascism and brought to the police station. Eight of them have been banned from the city of Milan for a year and one for six months. 74 other people were reported for organising an unauthorised demonstration and for violent behaviour on the same occasion, including one protester who was detained, bringing the total number of reported protesters to 83.
Tensions rise as police intervene at anti-COVID-19 protests in Trieste
On 18th October 2021 a protest was organised in the port of Trieste to denounce the introduction of the obligation to have a so-called "Green Pass” to access work, as discriminatory. The protest took place during a strike organised by the port workers for the same reasons. After hours of demonstrating, the tension between protesters and police rose when the latter tried to move the protest to another area of the city and free the port. Police employed tear gas and water cannon. Some clashes between police and protesters took place as well and police officers reportedly used batons.
Court orders media outlet to remove videos from its website
On 23rd September 2021, the Court of Rome ordered the Italian media outlet Fanpage.it to remove from their website videos about the so-called “Follow the Money” investigation, which concerns the case of embezzlement involving the right-wing party Lega (at the time “Lega Nord”). Fanpage carried out an investigation, published in April and July 2021, with the aim of shedding light on the electoral fraud of € 49 million by the party, for which its founder Umberto Bossi, his son Renzo and ex-treasurer Francesco Belsito were convicted of embezzlement. Fanpage's investigation included videos of a conversation between Lega’s Claudio Durigon, undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies at the time, and an interlocutor, with suggestion made by the Lega party that it had nothing to worry about because the investigation would be prevented by the general of the financial police.
According to the Court of Rome, the information contained in this video was defamatory and based on this consideration it had to be removed. The editor-in-chief of Fanpage, Francesco Cancellato, said in an editorial that the “blackout” order was an attack on press freedom and in contradiction of Article 21 of the Constitution, which stipulates that journalistic content cannot be seized and obscured for the alleged crime of defamation. Fanpage received solidarity from the national journalists’ association and other media outlets and associations fighting for press freedom (like Articolo 21), as well as the newspaper's readers and politicians.
About 24 hours later, the legal order was withdrawn by the Court. Fanpage considered this decision even more anomalous as the newspaper did not oppose the legal notice received the day before, hence the reasoning behind this step back is unclear.