The annual celebration of International Workers’ Day in Turin has become an occasion for activists to organise protests against local Mayor Fassino (PD, Centre-Left): an episode that is particularly telling of the divide within the spectrum of left-wing forces in times of austerity, and of the tensions between the traditional, ritualized, forms of labour and the unanswered, dramatic demands of the new precarious and unprotected workforce.
Fassino was booed and heckled several times during the annual May 1st march, in which he was participating in his official capacity as a mayor.
A first group of protesters (made up of members of collectives and activists from the Askatasuna squat) confronted Fassino right at the get-go of the march; they were attacked twice by anti-riot police. Four protesters from the Askatasuna squat were arrested (one of them was released shortly after the episode). The rally continued under police protection. Firecrackers went off during the clashes.
More clashes took place in piazza Castello, when the march was met by a group of precarious workers belonging to left-wing unions and No-Tav (i.e. Anti-High-Speed-Rail) activists. The latter were prevented from joining the march. Finally, protestors booed and chanted against Mayor Fassino while he gave his speech in the local square Piazza San Carlo, at the end of the rally. According to press sources, heavy protests came from a sector of the square where many precarious childcare workers had gathered. Due to austerity policies, hundreds of public childcare workers will be facing job losses as of this June. Finally, more clashes took place in the area adjacent to City Hall. There, police stopped one of two activists who were displaying banners with photos of the arrested Askatasuna squat members, while the other one stayed on the balcony railing. Police then charged the protestors, not caring that there were many children in their strollers among the crowd. After the charge, demonstrators returned to reoccupy the square, whereby the police were foreced to release the detained and to allow activists to display on the balcony a large ‘liberi tutti’ (‘let them go free’) banner and a No-Tav flag. At the same time, the Italian flag, which the municipality always has on display, was lowered to half-mast. A few minutes after the protestors moved along, the No-Tav flag and the banner were removed.
After all was said and done, 5 protesters and 6 police officers were reportedly injured.
Mayor Fassino received immediate support from his own party (PD), as well as from the high-ranks of the PDL (right-wing).