Police action against violent vaccination activists

Police action against violent vaccination activists

Rome – Police conducted searches across Italy on Monday against 17 anti-vaccine activists allegedly linked to a conversation on Telegram that espoused violence against government, medical and media figures for their perceived support of COVID-19 restrictions.

Police in Turin said the “Basta Ditatura” (Enough with the Dictatorship) chat had tens of thousands of members and was a key forum for organizing protests against the Italian passport.

Like many European countries, Italy requires people to show their so-called Green Pass to dine indoors, visit museums, cinemas, and long-distance public transportation. The card shows proof of vaccination, recent negative test, or recovery from COVID-19.

The protests intensified after Italy last month became the first Western country to require permission to enter workplaces.

In a statement on Monday, police said they had monitored the now-closed Telegram chat for weeks and identified 17 extremists who had threatened Prime Minister Mario Draghi, among others.

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“Other frequent targets were also police, doctors, scientists, journalists and other public figures accused of ‘slavery’ and ‘collaboration’ with the existing ‘dictatorship’,” the statement said.

Almost a weekend saw anti-vaccine protests and opposition to green passes in Italy, including on October 9 in Rome as extremists destroyed the headquarters of Italy’s main trade union. A protest last weekend in Milan featuring American anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy.

Last week, the Interior Ministry issued guidance to police departments across the country advising them to limit protests in crowded city centres. The ministry emphasized the protesters’ right to assemble, but noted the potential threat to public security and infection in recommending that protests only be allowed in further locations.

Italy, where the outbreak of the Corona virus first appeared in Europe in February 2020, is witnessing a steady increase in the number of daily cases amid a new wave of infections. The authorities recorded 62 cases per 100,000 residents last week, which is the third consecutive week in which the infection has seen an increase.

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But Italy is doing better at the moment than many other Western European countries. Nationwide, hospital bed capacity is well below a critical threshold, and while Italy’s official death toll of 132,775 remains one of the highest in Europe, daily deaths have remained below 100 for several months. Experts cite Italy’s Green Corridor requirements, continued internal mask mandates and a relatively high vaccination rate: 84% of the population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated.

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