Violent riots have erupted in Italy as anti-vaccination protestors clashed with police, who responded with tear gas, water cannons and brute force.
Shocking footage has emerged of riot officers using their batons to push back hundreds of people demonstrating in Rome against a government drive to make the Covid-19 "Green Pass" mandatory for all workers.
Fiery protests sparked by workplace vaccine rule
The Green Pass, which was designed to ease travel among the European Union, shows whether someone has received at least one vaccine dose, has tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.
In a matter of days, Italy will become the first country in Europe to make all workers carry the pass in an effort to accelerate vaccination coverage across the country.
Police in Rome, Italy beat protesters at the protest against the vaccine pass with batons. pic.twitter.com/GNdFOG3xG1
— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) October 9, 2021
But opponents, including far-right neo-facist groups, believe it will hinder freedoms by forcing vaccinations.
Under the system, any worker who fails to present a valid health certificate will be suspended with no pay, but they cannot be sacked.
Tensions escalate amid green pass anger
More than 10,000 angry protesters took to the streets of the Italian capital chanting “freedom, freedom”, according to local media reports.
MASSIVE protests in Italy today🇮🇹
Between 10 000 to 30 000 people took to the streets of Rome to protest covid passport mandates.
Next week those without a covid passport will loose their lively hoods.
Why isn't this bigger news? pic.twitter.com/4Hz7qG4bFk
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) October 9, 2021
The rally escalated as some looked to break past police lines, with one group attempting to reach Prime Minister Mario Draghi's city center office.
Another set its sights on smashing into the headquarters of Italy's main CGIL trade union.
Rally slammed as ‘fascist thuggery’
Mr Draghi condemned the violence and doubled down on his government’s commitment to completing its vaccination campaign.
"The right to demonstrate to support one's ideas can never degenerate into acts of aggression and intimidation," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Italian trade unionist Maurizio Landini said: "The assault on CGIL's national headquarters is an act of fascist thuggery, an attack on democracy and on the world of work."
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