Calls rise in Italy to ban pro-fascism groups after vaccine rampage

Rome: Left-leaning Italian lawmakers and politicians on Sunday called for measures to outlaw pro-fascism groups a day after anti-vaccine protesters, incited by extreme-right leaders, stormed a union office in Rome.

Twelve protesters were either detained or arrested, authorities said on Sunday, including Giuliano Castellino, leader of the extreme-right Forza Nuova party. Some 10,000 demonstrators turned out on Saturday to express their outrage at a government-imposed requirement that employees have a “Green Pass” to go into their workplaces starting next Friday.

Demonstrators and police clash during the protests in Rome.Credit:LaPresse

The passes certify that a person has received at the minimum one measure of a COVID-19 vaccine, recently recovered from the virus or tested negative within two days.

Cries of “Giuliano! Giuliano!” rose from the crowd on Saturday. Castellino, who due to past violence has been banned from displays in Rome, was allegedly one of the Forza Nuova members who exhorted supporters to storm the national headquarters of the CGIL labor confederation. Labour unions in Italy have supported the Green Passes to make workplaces safer for employees.

Scores of demonstrators used sticks, metal bars and rolled-up Italian flags to batter the door and then smashed by a window to go into. Inside, computers and phones were knocked to the ground and furniture was overturned.

Later, hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police as they tried to reach the square outside Chigi Palace, home to the premier’s office and near the Italian parliament.

A doll with syringes is shown by a demonstrator.Credit:LaPresse

After the storming of the union headquarters, demonstrators had then headed down Rome’s Via Veneto, a boulevard that winds past the US embassy. As a precaution, Italian security officials decided to usher Nancy Pelosi, the US Speaker of the House, out of a nearby church where she had been attending Mass, her office said on Sunday.

Earlier on Saturday, Pelosi had a private audience at the Vatican with Pope Francis.

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