Italian police said today they arrested 12 people, including the leaders of the extreme right-wing party Forza Nuova, after riots in Rome a day earlier over a government drive to make the COVID-19 “Green Pass” mandatory for all workers.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Rome on Saturday to oppose the move. Some tried to break past police in riot gear guarding access to Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office. Meanwhile a separate group broke into the headquarters of Italy’s main CGIL trade union and ransacked the offices.
Overnight, dozens of protesters also tried to break into the accident and emergency unit at Rome’s Policlinico Umberto I hospital, where one of them was being kept for treatment. Health workers barricaded themselves inside, emergency department head Francesco Pugliese told reporters on Sunday.
Wide scope of Green Pass
Draghi introduced the Green Pass in the summer to help prevent infections and encourage people to get vaccinated.
The certificates were initially needed to enter many cultural and leisure venues, but their scope has gradually been widened. Last month, the government made it compulsory for all workers.
More than 80% of all Italians over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated as of Oct. 10.
Agreed by unions
Under the Green Pass system for workers, accepted by unions and employers, any worker who fails to present a valid health certificate from October 15th will be suspended with no pay. However, they cannot be sacked.
“It was a fascist squad attack, and it is unacceptable,” CGIL’s head Maurizio Landini said on Sunday. He was speaking to supporters in front of the union offices in Rome.
Riots draw criticism
The riots drew widespread condemnation, including from Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, the leaders of the rightist League and Brothers of Italy parties, respectively.
The police said in a statement that 38 police officers suffered injuries during the Rome anti-vax clashes.
Emanuele Fiano, a lawmaker from the centre-left Democratic Party, said his party would present a parliamentary motion on Monday to dismantle groups such as Forza Nuova that espouse extreme neo-fascist ideologies.