ROME , -- Police carried out searches in Italy Monday against 17 antivaccine activists suspected of being associated with Telegram chats that advocated violence against government, media and medical figures to support COVID-19 restrictions.
Turin police said that the chat "Basta Dittatura", (Enough of the dictatorship) had thousands of members. It was also a great place to organize protests against Italy’s health pass.
Italy, like many European countries, requires that people show their "Green Pass" to eat indoors, to visit museums and cinemas, and to use long-distance public transportation. This pass is proof that you have been vaccinated, had a negative test in the last six months or are free from COVID-19.
After Italy became the first Western country last month to require a pass in order to gain access to workplaces, protests have become more intense.
The statement stated that "other recurring targets" included doctors, journalists, police officers, scientists and other public figures who were accused of 'enslavement and 'collaboration with the dictatorship in place."
Nearly every weekend in Italy has seen anti-vaccine or anti-green-pass protests. One example was the Oct. 9th in Rome, in which extremists destroyed the headquarters of Italy’s largest labor union. Robert F. Kennedy, an American anti-vaccine activist was the focus of a protest in Milan this weekend.
The Interior Ministry issued guidelines to police nationwide last week advising them to stop protests being held in congested cities. While the ministry reiterated the right for protesters to gather, it recommended that protests not be permitted in congested city centers.
Italy is experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases every day. This is the country where the first European outbreak of coronavirus occurred in Europe in February 2020. Last week's increase in incidence was the third consecutive week with 62 cases per 100,000 people.
Italy is performing better than most other west European countries, but it's doing well for the moment. The country's hospital bed capacity is below the critical threshold. While Italy's death toll of 132 775 remains the highest in Europe for the time being, it has seen a steady decline in daily deaths since the beginning of this year. Experts point to Italy's green passport requirement, ongoing indoor mask mandates, and high vaccination rate. 84% of the population is fully vaccinated if they are over 12.