Police, protesters injured as protests turn violent in Campania – Updated

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Naples witnessed a night of violent protests in view of the restrictions in the Campania region, aimed to curb the recent Covid-19 cases spike.

Around 11 pm a revolt broke out, in front of the headquarters of the Campania Region, against the announcement of a new lockdown by Governor De Luca.

They were the first such protests in Italy since the start of its coronavirus outbreak eight months ago.

COVID-19 cases across the country have risen seven-fold since the start of the month, jumping to 19,143 on Friday and raising fears that the pandemic is spiralling out of control.

The number of deaths is also climbing, albeit at a slower rate and less constantly. Fatalities totalled 91 on Friday, down from 136 the day before and far fewer than at the height of the first wave in March and April, when a daily peak of more than 900 deaths was reached.

The protest immediately degenerated with a dense throwing of stones at the police who responded with light firing shots.

Some skips were also set on fire and some overturned on the street by groups of hooded youths who began to attack the police cars.

In some cases the cars were surrounded, had their doors opened and punched, kicked and strapped after which thrown by the protestors.

At the intersection with Via Santa Lucia someone threw paper bombs and smoke bombs towards the police.

Hundreds of people clash with police during the protest against the curfew and the prospect of lockdown in Naples, Italy, 23 October 2020. The governor of Campania ordered from 23 October, a curfew from 11 p.m. till morning due to spike in coronavirus infections in the region. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

Before the violence surge, hundreds of people blocked pedestrian traffic in the alleys of the historic center around the Eastern University.

The protests were launched by social media and groups of young people from every part of the center of Naples and not only met in Largo San Giovanni Maggiore and the Eastern University of Naples.

A direct message on Facebook incited civil rebellion.

Two banners at the top of a procession: “you close us and you pay us”.

Many gatherings and people took to the street without a mask. After a moment of relative calm, some demonstrators tried again to reach the building of the Region shouting “freedom, freedom”, but again they were turned away by the police.

Hundreds of people gather to protest against the curfew and the prospect of lockdown in Naples, Italy, 23 October 2020. The governor of Campania ordered from 23 October, a curfew from 11 p.m. till morning due to spike in coronavirus infections in the region. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

Some of the police were lightly wounded in the head while some of those protesting had bruises.

“This evening we witnessed real criminal behavior towards the police. No conditions of discomfort, however humanly understandable, can in any way justify the violence”, affirmed the Naples police commissioner, Alessandro Giuliano.

The protesters are not traders and small entrepreneurs who have done so peacefully in these hours, both in Naples and Salerno, but young people who have gathered in the areas traditionally frequented by university students and the antagonist galaxy.

Among the various souls who took to the streets also ultrà of curve A of the San Paolo stadium, activists of social centers and movements such as Identità insorgenti. It is not excluded, as already happened during the 2002 and 2008 protests against landfills and waste treatment plants, that fringes of organized crime infiltrated the protests.

Earlier Campania Governor Vincenzo De Luca on Friday called for a new national lockdown in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases and said he will impose one soon in his region, but Premier Giuseppe Conte reiterated that a new lockdown should be averted. “The current contagion figures make any type of partial measure ineffective,” De Luca said.

“It is necessary to close everything, except for sectors that produce and move essential goods. It is indispensable to stop movement between regions and between towns. Frankly, I can’t see how limited measures can be effective in this situation. In any case, Campania will go in this direction very soon”.

De Luca has already closed the region’s schools until the end of the month and is one of several governors to have imposed a curfew, which will run from 23:00 to 5:00 every day from Friday. Conte, on the other hand, on Friday called on the Italian public to be especially scrupulous in respecting the rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in order to prevent the nation having to endure a second lockdown. We must avert a second nationwide lockdown,” Conte said. That’s why we must remain vigilant and ready to intervene where necessary”.

The premier admitted that “there growing concern about the increase in contagion in Europe and Italy”. “We must keep attention high, strengthened by the experience of the spring. We must contain contagion and seek to avoid the stoppage of production and labour activities, the closure of public offices and the closure of the schools”.

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