Rome Mayor Boasts of Record Sanctions Against Citizens Breaking Lockdown

Rome mayor boasts of number of police stops during coronavirus lockdown
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ROME — Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, boasts on social media that police have conducted a record number of stops of citizens and handed out hundreds of hefty fines for those judged to be in non-compliance with the coronavirus lockdown.

“In Rome, in less than a month of coronavirus emergency, the local police have carried out more than 400,000 checks and discovered 664 miscreants. I thank all the agents for the great work they are doing during these delicate days,” Ms Raggi tweeted on Friday.

This week Ms Raggi created an internet hotline to facilitate reporting on disobedient neighbours who fail to comply with the nationwide lockdown, a move that some have denounced as a “witch hunt” and a reign of terror reminiscent of Italy’s dark days of fascism.

Raggi has urged citizens to become government informants by reporting on their neighbors who violate any of the coronavirus lockdown rules.

“Are there gatherings of people you think conflict with the rules of the health emergency?” reads an announcement on the Rome City Hall Facebook page. “You can report them directly to the competent Supervisory Authority, through the SUS (Single Reporting System) active on the institutional portal of Roma Capitale.”

Many citizens have complained that the measure encourages neighbours to spy on one another rather than uniting in solidarity in the midst of a nationwide crisis that already weighs heavily on everyone.

“Incentivising and legitimising the climate of a police state… a stupid move,” one wrote. “I hope no-one forgets this ‘laudable’ gesture.”

Ms Raggi announced on Saturday that Rome has hired 300 new police officers who will go on active duty in the nation’s capital on April 17.

Italy has issued a series of national decrees that have repeatedly constricted the number of valid reasons that citizens may venture out of their homes, with government insisting that law enforcement is to interpret the norms as strictly as possible.

Most recently, Italy’s Interior Ministry decreed that going to a church to pray will not be deemed a valid reason for leaving one’s home during the coronavirus lockdown, and violators are subject to heavy fines as well as a police record.

Italians may leave their residences to purchase cigarettes, newspapers, food, and medication and to walk their dogs, but they may not go to pray in a church unless they have a better reason for being out and about and the church happens to fall along their path, in which case they may briefly enter to pray, the Interior Ministry declared.

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