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Large police presence lining the streets in Naples as anti-lockdown measures result in widespread protests. Screenshot from YouTube

Italy: Widespread protests against government’s Covid lockdowns

Demonstrations against the government's anti-Covid measures have seen tensions rise throughout Italy. Over the last few hours, clashes have intensified. In Turin, thousands of citizens gathered in the city center On Monday night.

Published: October 27, 2020, 7:39 am

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    In Piazza Castello, where the demonstrators gathered to protest the lockdown, paper bombs were hurled at the police guarding the entrance to the government’s regional offices. But the Piedmontese capital was not the only one facing resistance.

    Lega leader Matteo Salvini tweeted a photo of the crowded transport in Rome: “Photo from this morning, metro C in Rome, San Giovanni stop. An absurdity. They close safe and controlled places like gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters, but continue to crowd people on the subway and on buses.”

    Those who took to the streets in Turin also threw smoke bombs and bottles, shouting “freedom, freedom” and displayed a banner with the words “No curfew”. There was no shortage of chants against the police who guarded the area.

    In the clashes, a photojournalist was injured in the head by a bottle thrown by the crowd. The man, whose personal details are still unknown, suffered a head cut and was transported to the emergency room by a 118 ambulance. Two policemen were also injured. The protest from Piazza Castello moved to via Roma where some shop windows were smashed with stones collected from a nearby construction site. Numerous garbage bins were also tipped into the street.

    The scenes were those of urban warfare: Shops, including luxury shops, were ransacked and looted in via Roma, while paper bombs exploded all around. In Piazza Castello, near the Teatro Regio, a bonfire from a scooter and some wooden planks could be seen. A dozen people were arrested.

    The police were placed on maximum alert with the “people’s protest” against “dictatorship, curfew and lockdown”. On the streets, there were reports of the presence of both anarchists and elements of the far right.

    Restaurants, bartenders, pub managers said they were also ready to mobilize: “At 6pm we are forced to close, but having a future is our right.” This was the message of the poster that hundreds of members of Fiepet, the federation of Confesercenti, posted in their windows.

    Meanwhile, taxi drivers took to the streets because they too feel the pinch of the government’s limitations. According to a joint note from their trade unions, “our work depends directly on whether or not the activities are open”.

    In Milan traders took to the streets on Monday, despite a call from the president of the Confcommercio Historical Business Club, Alfredo Zini, demanding that they close shop for three weeks to contain infections and mafia infiltration into companies in crisis.

    But, in the evening, the situation worsened. Molotov cocktails were hurled at law enforcement and traffic blocked in Corso Buenos Aires, where about a hundred people, mostly young people and members of the extreme right, demonstrated with the cry of “freedom, freedom” against the restrictions imposed on October 24. The demonstrators moved towards Porta Venezia, followed by the police. Among the slogans shouted by those who protested, many were against Prime Minister Conte.

    The demonstrators broke the windows of the tram of line 9 in viale Monte Santo, near Piazza della Repubblica. Then, not far from the building of the Lombardy Region, fireworks exploded. The area was manned by a heavy police presence.

    In Rome on Tuesday, in front of the Chamber of Deputies, there was a protest from restaurateurs and bartenders, street vendors and fair workers. Owners and representatives of commercial activities marched to ask for economic support from the government.

    Tomorrow at 10 it will be the turn of the managers of swimming pools and gyms to demonstrate in Montecitorio, united by the cry “Let’s not give up, sport is health”. A spontaneous national demonstration of VAT workers was also held in Piazza del Popolo.

    In Sicily, migrants in a reception center staged an uprising in reaction to the lockdown imposed on them. The carabinieri and police from the Guardia di Finanza were brought in to quell the violence and prevent infected residents from breaking out of quarantine.

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