After clashes in Turin at the start of last week, members of Italy's "pitchfork" movement promised to march on Rome to have their demands heard. The movement is essentially calling for massive government reforms. No one's clarified exactly what those reforms should be yet, but the point is that they should be massive. A crowd of around 3,000 people turned up in the city's Piazza del Popolo yesterday to sing the national anthem, display placards reading, "Italy is rising up" and shout stuff about the coalition government being "parasites", "criminals" and "thieves".
According to the movement's leaders, that 3,000 was supposed to be 15,000. But thanks to a split within ranks – moderate supporters staying away for fear of the event being hijacked by the far-right, neo-fascist groups who've tagged on to the pitchfork protests – the other 12,000 didn't show.
There were a few scuffles, including an Italian TV crew who had their equipment damaged while protesters shouted, "Journalist! Terrorists!" but nothing on the scale of what happened last week in Turin. Besides that, the rally was uneventful, despite the attendance of several hundred members of the far-right Casa Pound group, who have become violent at protests in the past.However, amid high unemployment and the growing feeling of inevitable social crisis, there are signs that the movement is beginning to worry those in the ruling coalition. Pietro Grasso – the speaker of the upper house of Parliament – warned that "those who seek to jump on the back of the protests" are playing "a dangerous game that runs the risk of blowing up an already critical situation".However, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco – the head of Italy's Catholic Church – said: "Politicians should listen to the cry of pain from the street, an unease that is real in our society." And it's likely that they'll have to start listening, as pitchfork leaders have threatened further action over the next few days.Previously: People All Over Italy Are Angry at Their Government