Small group responsible for Rome protest violence

A cadre of young people prepared to instigate riots in the days leading up to the weekend's demonstrations

Published October 17, 2011 4:28PM (EDT)

Stories of violence in Rome swept through the media sphere over the weekend. Images and accounts of protesters fighting police and setting fire to vehicles captured international attention. But a cursory overview only reveals part of the picture. The episode appears to have been manufactured by a small group of protesters, clad in black and bearing weapons, who infiltrated the protests with the express purpose of inciting violence.

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere delle Sera, the rioters were a small group of mostly young people, separate from the larger movement, who had planned on hijacking the protests "days before":

Most [rioters] came on Saturday morning. At about 11 am, [police] at Pomezia followed and stopped a Fiat 600 with a youth and three young women on board. In the boot were five rucksacks containing a veritable arsenal – four motorcycle crash helmets, ten gas masks with filters, 500 glass marbles, a large professional slingshot, four balaclavas, four shin guards, two builder’s hammers, a crowbar and four bottles containing liquids. The report already forwarded to magistrates refers to “individuals belonging to the anarchist insurrectionalist area”.

As the AP noted, hundreds of thousands of other protesters, who called themselves "the indignant," marched "without incident" in Rome and elsewhere across Europe. The Italian capital's mayor himself blamed the violence on "a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe, who infiltrated the demonstration."

By Peter Finocchiaro

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