In Rome, hundreds of anti-fascist residents shut down a meeting between fascists and the local council, clashing with militants from far-right organisation Casapound as well as riot police who had been defending them.
The clashes took place outside an Extraordinary Council Meeting set up to discuss the fate of a Red Cross migrant reception centre in the Rome neighbourhood of Tiburtino III, called at the request of Casapound. Local community activists criticised that the far-right group was included in the council meeting while no pro-migrant voices or local residents’ groups were allowed to participate.
Around 30 fascists were allowed into the council meeting via a side entrance in an old people’s home, where the council meeting was due to take place.
However, the meeting was cancelled due to fears over safety as anti-fascists massed outside. Anti-fascists were eventually able to break through police lines and attack Casapound activists with belts, pepper spray and flag poles. Numerous people were injured in the fighting, the most severe being one among the fascists, hit in the head by an object thrown at his head.
Riot police were eventually needed to take control of the situation, moving anti-fascists away from the entrance of the meeting and eventually giving the fascists a police escort away from the meeting later in the day.
In a statement from the Nodo Territoriale Tiburtina, a coordination of local community groups from the area, said that “hundreds of local residents took to the streets to stop the Extraordinary Council Meeting of lies in Tiburtino III.”
“The meeting, called on the back of intimidation by Casapound and endorsed by all political forces, was cancelled thanks to the determination of the neighbourhood to not accept the instrumentalisation, the intimidation and the incitement of war between poor people from the whole of the far-right.
“They entered the neighbourhood as an external body, protected and escorted by the police, while the anti-racist and democratic rally was blocked from the public meeting.
“We reiterate with force that the whole assortment of neo-fascists are not welcome, neither in Tiburtino nor the rest of the city.”
Tiburtino III rejects racist lies
The migrant reception centre in Rome has become a lightning rod for anti-migrant sentiment and fascist activity in the city. On September 6, Casapound burst into a council meeting to demand the closure of the centre while a fight occurring the same day between a local resident and migrant housed at the centre was seized upon by local and national media as ‘proof’ it was bringing crime to the area and endangering locals.
Meanwhile, Casapound has a long history of violence around the country but particularly active in Rome and the surrounding region. In February of this year, a 24-year-old was attacked by a group of 15 Casapound militants for sharing a satirical post on Facebook about the group while in June, a group of Casapound activists filmed themselves threatening migrant street vendors on the beach in Ostia.
Moreover, Casapound have long enjoyed strong links with local government in Rome. Gianni Alemanno, mayor from 2008-2013, was himself a long-serving fascist activist and offered to buy Casapound’s social centre for them, coming to a cost of €11.8 million. During his time in office, so many fascists, from Casapound and related groups, were recruited into local government it became a national scandal dubbed ‘fascistopoli’.
Though Alemanno is no longer in power, the current mayor from the populist Five Star Movement gives little hope for migrants and anti-racists, with the party in a formal alliance with UKIP in the European Parliament.
New footage has begun circulating in the Italian media of one Casapound member attacking another with a belt after mistaking him for an anti-fascist. See the footage below: