Street battles erupted in central Rome overnight as Italian police dispersed a group of 200 far-right demonstrators, who staged a violent protest against the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Skirmishes erupted shortly after midnight and were focused around Rome’s iconic Piazza del Popolo. The square was supposed to host a rally organized by the Fuerza Nova party, which its leadership promised to be a peaceful act of civil disobedience against “health dictatorship and curfews”.
According to local media, the promise was broken by masked protesters at around midnight. A firework in the colors of the Italian flag was launched in the air, apparently serving as a signal to attack riot police with pyrotechnics and other projectiles. Clashes ensued, during which law enforcement pushed the demonstrators out of the square. Some fighting also happened around Piazza Trilussa.
Eight people were arrested over night. Some dumpsters and vehicles were reportedly set on fire, but no significant property damage was reported. The clashes in Rome came after similar violence in Naples on Friday night.
— Local Team (@localteamtv) October 24, 2020
The night skirmishes happened hours after a peaceful protest against Covid-19 restrictions took place in the Italian capital. The southern European country is struggling to contain the infection, which is reaching record daily levels. But many Italians are weary of localized shutdowns and curfews and oppose government plans for further restrictions. Italy is already suffering its worst economic recession since World War II, after a two-month national lockdown in spring.
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