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On the streets of Rome, Italy’s capital, up to 200.000 demonstrators took the streets to join the global protest called from one side to other of the world. Among those, a group of Black Bloc protesters – between 100 and 200 people – hijacked the peaceful march with an explosion of violence against stores, banks, cars, police and other protesters.
October 15th was the day of worldwide demonstrations. In 951 cities in more than 80 countries hundreds of thousands of people took the streets and the squares to protest against financial elites, capitalists, bankers and governments’ austerity measures and to claim rights and real democracy for all.
Although the massive participation in most of the cities, reports on violence are rare and the protests were peaceful and quiet even in the European capitals which are the epicenter of the crisis and where the anger and the frustration are stronger.
In this scenario of collaboration and solidarity the exception has been Rome. Here just half an hour after the peaceful march of the Italian “indignados” started – at around 2.30 pm Italian time –, a small group of demonstrators with covered faces and clad totally in black broke away from the main rally and began to throw bottles, stones and incendiary devices at stores, banks, and police.
Numerous cars and trash bins were set on fire in the streets of downtown, offices of the Defence Ministry were assaulted and set on fire as well, banks and stores’ windows were smashed, journalists crew were attacked and many other damages were caused by the group of Black Bloc rioters. Pictures and videos report images of urban guerrilla, terrified people, bloody faces, fire, smoke, destruction and violence. They show the “total black protesters” breaking away from the main group and attacking police and peaceful demonstrators on their way.
The estimated number of injured people is around 70. Two protesters and one policeman have been seriously hurt, one of them – a 52-years-old man who tried to stop the violents – lost two fingers for the explosion of a firecracker thrown by one of the Black Blocs – as it’s shown in one video.
During a high tension moment of clashes between riot police and the violent group, a police armour-plated car was set on fire and police charged repeatedly the protesters and used tear gas and water cannons to stop the riots. The peaceful part of demonstrators, that is the big majority of them, ran away and fled the violence. Some of them who turned against the small violent group trying to stop and push them away were attacked and injured.
Around 12 people have been arrested. Rome’s mayor Gianni Alemanno, ministers and leaders of all parties blamed the violence. Some leader of the opposition questioned on how it was possible that the police was not able to stop such a small and well identifiable violent group for so many hours.
Meanwhile, on the web and on social media some users are rising the question on whether the Black Blocs could be real protesters or infiltrated policemen. Some suggest also that those protesters could have been paid and supported by “men of power”, who have strong interests in a violent hijacking of the peaceful protest to boycott it and manipulate the consequent news for condemning the demonstration. At the moment there is no proof for these conjectures to be true.
What it’s sure is that the news of the violent riots spread easier and stronger than the actual and true mass event which was this global peaceful protest covering it up. Though this has been a serious and blameworthy violence episode, we should also look to the importance and the strength of a worldwide movement that gathered 200.000 people just in Rome who are claiming for a future and protesting against a heavy economical crisis which is not the people’s fault. Also in a country which is standing on bended knees such as Italy, people answered to the call “People of the word: rise up!”.