ROME (May. 18)
Ten days after police shut down the headquarters of several of the country’s best-known skinhead groups, neo-Nazis staged attacks on two left-wing youth clubs in outlying neighborhoods of Rome.
The authorities had acted to crack down on skinheads and disband the groups, but the neo-Nazis apparently carried out the attacks last weekend to demonstrate they were still active.
The first raid took place around midnight Saturday, when about 20 to 25 skinheads marched in goose step formation past the doorway of a youth club linked to the Democratic Party of the Left, the former Communist Party, where a rock concert and dance had just ended.
The skinheads shouted “Sieg Heil” and saluted in Nazi style.
A few minutes later, armed with crowbars, chains and other weapons, the skinheads returned and attacked. Two people were lightly injured in the brawl, including the father of one of the left-wing youths who initially tried to calm the situation.
“We resisted as well as we could, with brooms, with chairs, but they were too much. They were out of control,” a youth identified only as Fabrizio told the newspaper II Messagero. “There was nothing human about them, they were like robots,” he said.
“They were not people from around here,” he said. “We have fascists in this neighborhood, and they are not capable of organizing themselves in such a way.
“These people came from outside to hit us. Thankfully, we were able to barricade ourselves inside. We shouted that we had called the police and, in the end, the Nazis went away,” he said.
The same night, a half-hour later, a score of skinheads attacked another left-wing youth club. After the youths in the club barricaded themselves behind closed doors, the skinheads vandalized 10 or so cars parked nearby.
“The skinheads wanted to show that they were alive and well, and in position to strike anyone, despite the closure of their headquarters under the provisions of a government decree,” wrote II Messaggero.
Two weeks ago, police in various cities dismantled the major headquarters of known skinhead groups, including five in the Rome area.
In addition, some 75 youths in Rome, Milan, Florence and other cities were put under special restrictions, forbidden to leave the country and under orders to inform police of their movements within Italy.
At the end of April, a government decree aimed against skinheads went into effect stipulating heavy penalties for anyone fostering racial or religious hatred.