On Saturday, Italian police deployed water cannons and tear gas to disperse neofascist protestors protesting the government’s effort to make Covid-19 immunization compulsory for all workers. The main protesters in Rome attempted to break through police lines to reach Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s city center office, the Chigi Palace, while another group attempted to smash their way into the headquarters of the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) trade union body using sticks and metal bars.
Critics of Italy’s Covid-19 green pass, which certifies that a person has been vaccinated, recovered from the virus, or got a recent negative test, claim that it violates people’s rights and is a backdoor method of forcing people to get vaccinated. They are backed by far-right neofascist organizations, which local politicians say are the ones responsible for the instigation of the violence on Saturday.
Around 10,000 people went to the streets of Rome as part of the protests, with many screaming “Freedom! Freedom!” while others attempted to break past police in riot gear stationed to protect the entrance to the Prime Minister’s office. The CGIL has agreed to the green pass system and has denounced the attack on its premises.
“The assault on CGIL’s national headquarters is an act of fascist thuggery, an attack on democracy and the working world. Nobody should think that they can return our country to its fascist past,” stated union leader Maurizio Landini. Under the pass system, any employee who fails to show a valid health certificate by Friday will be suspended without pay, but they will not be fired.
The Covid passport is already required to enter museums, theatres, gyms, and indoor eateries, as well as long-distance trains, buses, and domestic flights. Approximately 80% of Italians over the age of 12 are now completely vaccinated.