Police Clash With Green Pass Protesters in Italian Port City
The Italian government has so far shown no signs it will reverse its decision on the Green Pass requirement as thousands of residents take to the streets in protest.
TRIESTE, Italy — Police used watercannons and tear gas Monday on demonstrators at Italy’s busiest commercial port who were protesting the imposition of a mandated COVID-19 Green Pass on all employees across the country.
Dock workers in the northeastern city of Trieste began the protests last Friday when the pass was widened to include workers. It then spread to other cities with thousands of other Italians joining in solidarity. Around 100,000 people are expected to descend on Trieste for further protests on Friday.
The demonstrators’ aim is to pressure the Italian government to reverse its mandatory policy which, as well as for all workers, has since August been required to enter certain public venues such as cinemas, theaters and indoor restaurants.
The pass shows that the holder is either vaccinated against, recently recovered from, or recently tested negative for COVID-19. The Vatican enforced an almost identical restriction on its employees and visitors on Oct. 1. Failure to show a pass leads to suspension without pay and, in Italy, a fine up of up to €1,500 ($1,740).
The pass has the support of the majority of Italian citizens according to surveys, although opponents of the pass doubt the accuracy and veracity of such studies. Italy’s coalition government, led by Mario Draghi, has brought in the wider restrictions in the hope of avoiding another lockdown.
The Trieste protests, which the organizers say have purposely taken the form of nonviolent passive resistance, are being led by 800 of the city’s 950 dock workers whose strike action has slowed down operations at Italy’s most important commercial port.
The port has never ceased working completely and workers have been free to enter and exit the docks, which made the crackdown on the peaceful protests essentially unprovoked and unacceptable to many observers.
Gianfranco Amato, a Catholic pro-life lawyer who witnessed the protest on Monday first-hand, said the “brutal” police action, which included hitting a pregnant mother over the head, was “incomprehensible and absolutely unjustifiable.”
The dockers, who have said they are protesting on behalf of all Italian workers, have pledged to continue striking at least until Oct. 23 when two government representatives will travel to Trieste to meet the protest leaders.
“You have to make Italy understand that this cannot go on,” Stefano Puzzer, the leader of dock workers’ campaign, tearfully told reporters on Monday as he held the hand of a demonstrator reciting the Rosary.
“I am not desperate but sad for all these people, because we are responsible for them all. We are praying. There are people who are trembling and afraid,” he added.
The Italian government has so far shown no signs it will reverse its decision on the Green Pass requirement, and many Italians are increasingly concerned that this measure, among the world’s toughest, is just the beginning of a largely unopposed totalitarianism they say is taking hold of the country.
Although Trieste has become a locus for the protests, demonstrations also took place in piazzas in major cities across the country last week and are expected to continue on Friday and Saturday.
Speaking to the Register on Oct. 20, Trieste citizen Fabiana Serra stressed that the protests are not primarily about the COVID vaccines but rather because people “refuse the principle of having to show a document.”
“Many of the dock workers and other protesters are vaccinated themselves and eligible for a Green Pass but are rejecting the need to show some sort of code to be allowed to work,” Serra said.
“The reason why I’m stressing this is because we’re kind of sick and tired of being called ‘no-vax’ — everyone should be granted access to the vaccine if they want it, but we’re against the idea you have to be vaccinated or take the PCR test,” Serra said. She suggested that the tests are unreliable, the employee has to pay for them, and they are increasingly difficult to obtain.
Serra said the government offered free tests to the dockers, but they rejected this as a “double insult” as they said it amounted to a bribe and was unjust to other Italian workers “who might earn less.”
Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi of Trieste said on Monday he was following the situation “with growing concern” and invited everyone, “in particular the institutions and demonstrators, to seek peaceful solutions to the issues on the table, freeing the arena from acts of force that lead to nothing but aggravated tempers that are already tested, and to possible exploitation.”
The archbishop, who for many years was secretary at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and is now president of the Cardinal Van Thuân Observatory that promotes the Church’s social doctrine, stressed that the path to take “is not that of force and harsh and unbreakable opposition, but that of dialogue, of mutual listening to each other’s reasons in the search for solutions that truly respect the human person, the common good and democracy.”
He added that he was praying for a “season of renewal” and “fruitful social and civil friendship” to emerge for the city through “this very complicated and painful period.”
The dock workers have pledged to continue striking after Oct. 23 if no acceptable agreement can be made with the Italian government.
Said Puzzer, “We won’t give an inch.”