A second wave of arrests among radical circles has hit Italy again this morning. The operation, that was led by the police and secret service departments, has concluded with 22 banning orders and a total of 78 people under investigation in Florence, 5 under home arrest.
All of them are believed to be connected with the local social centre Spazio Liberato 400 colpi (Liberated Space 400 Blows), which played a huge part in the student protests of last autumn. The charges are in some instances similar to the ones made against the Bologna arrestees last month, of subversive and criminal association, but some are more specific: damage to private or public property, illegal occupation of public buildings, violence against police officers, disruption to public services. These all refer to the direct actions and protests that student groups carried out all over Italy between November and December 2010 in particular, when huge groups of protesters occupied train and bus stations, monuments and other public places.
The 78 people under investigation are all believed to have participated in actions that took place during those months in Florence, such as damage to banks and cash points, sabotage of CCTV installations, damage and attacks against headquarters of local political parties and international companies, occupations of public and private buildings and disruption of public transport by the occupation of train stations and main roads. For info and videos of the protests read my previous articles by clicking on “Students” under the Categories menu. Once again, the police and the media have claimed that weapons were found in the social centre: have a look here at the dangerous weapons of mass destruction for a laugh (or a cry…). Earlier on in January, the same social centre had announced online the discovery of 2 bugs in the building.
In a repetition of methods used in other historical circumstances, Italian authorities are once again engaged in a ruthless and brutal crackdown of any radical (and less radical, for that matter) form of dissent. They might have been astonished and almost paralysed by the size and creativity of the protests but their intention now is clear: to scare the thousands people who took to the streets during the last few months by punishing a few, the ones they believe to be the instigators and leaders; to cause friction and division between groups and individuals with different tactics and strategies and, ultimately, to reaffirm their power and have their revenge. But they can’t stop the seeds of resistance spreading, any more than they can still the winds of change.