Italy: An ‘Occupy’ movement turns bloody

In more than 80 countries, people marched in solidarity with New York’s Occupy Wall Street without incident, except in Italy, where the protest turned violent.

What is the matter with Italy? asked Stefano Folli in the Milan Il Sole 24 Ore. Almost every other developed country in the world managed to hold peaceful demonstrations last weekend in solidarity with New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement. People marched without incident in more than 80 countries, including Germany, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico. Only in Italy did the protest turn violent. In what has become a “wearying ritual,” the street protests turned into “guerrilla warfare,” as black-clad youths torched cars and hurled Molotov cocktails and bricks through bank windows. They even vandalized an 18th-century church, dragging a statue of the Virgin Mary out into the street and smashing it. Such “atrocious images” embarrass Italy before the world.

The rioters were a small minority, said Marco Rossi Doria in the Turin La Stampa. Occupy Rome drew a remarkably diverse group of protesters, including doctors and teachers and other public servants, the laid-off, illegal immigrants, and many university students. They came “from north and south,” the young and the old, all united in protest against corporate greed and the forces of international finance. The mood was “positive, not bitter” until, in an obviously planned assault, small groups of anarchists dressed in black and wearing motorcycle helmets launched their assault. Fortunately, the police “did not attack,” nor did any of the peaceful demonstrators join the mayhem. That encouraging fact is borne out by the casualty toll: More than 100 police injured and only 30 anarchists—several of whom had fingers blown off by their own bombs. This, then, was not an action by the majority of leftist protesters, but merely by a few hundred hard-core extremists.

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