The weather forecast for a pandemic: The facts behind a protest in Turin

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April 26, 2020
Written by: Angelo Colella

Meteorology makes a distinction between effective temperature and perceived temperature: the first one is the actual air temperature and can be measured with a thermometer; the second one is the sensation of heat or cold as itĄ¯s felt by a subject, and it depends on the actual temperature and on the environmental conditions.

Taking this distinction into account can be a useful key to read recent events like the incident that happened in Turin, regional capital of Piedmont. Apparently, in the early afternoon of April 19th, a riot against the Government has taken place on Corso Giulio Cesare, into the historical district Aurora.

Intersection of Corso brescia and Corso Giulio Cesare Turin Italy
Intersection of Corso Brescia and Corso Giulio Cesare in Turin, Italy

According to Italian newspapers such as "La Stampa" and "La Repubblica", which have reported the story with articles that can be read on their respective websites, it all started when a couple of pickpockets had robbed an old woman of her necklace and, after having gotten away with a bicycle, were tracked down and apprehended by the police.

The two robbers are said to be of Moroccan nationality and this particular had initially led to attribute the responsability of the protest to non-EU citizens. At that point, from a nearby squat, home to anarchists groups and others from the extreme left-wing, some eighty peoples had rushed outside to try and free the robbers, in protest at the agents' unjustified excess of severity during the arrest.

Railing against the agents had led to clashes with the police and, after that, the anarchists had invited those residing in the area to come join the protest. Many did take to the streets, de facto violating the containment rules imposed following the national lockdown, and blocking the Corso for three hours.

The final outcome is of seven wounded police agents, four peoples (two men and two women) arrested for assaulting public officials, and at least three peoples have been charged with assault and resisting arrest. The Army had to intervene, which was already present in the district because of its involvement with operations of territorial control due to the coronavirus emergency.

The incident in itself, the newspapers tell us, had no political purposes whatsoever: there was just one young man who, by using a megaphone, was shouting political messages and complaining that the State doesn't help its own citizens, and he has been arrested too. 

Both "La Stampa" and "La Repubblica" presented the facts in the same way and agreed to blame the anarchists for obstructing justice and instigating civil unrest. But there's some amateur videos, recorded with the cellphones' cameras and available on YouTube, that show a different side and offer a different point of view of the whole situation: when the peoples in these videos look at what's happening in front of them and talk about a riot breaking out in front of their very eyes, none of them sound really shocked. They do sound concerned, but theirs is more the tone of someone who was expecting it any time now. One of such videos has been uploaded by "La Repubblica" on its YouTube channel and can be seen here:

"La Stampa" too has uploaded a video on its YouTube channel, and it can be seen here:

As a matter of fact, lots of users that have left their comments under these YouTube videos argue that the timeline of the events is the very opposite of that reported by the newspapers: allegedly a non-violent protest was taking place against the ineffectiveness of the Government's work, unable to properly respond to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak, and then police came to disperse and arrest protesters.

This account of events is supported also by online newspaper "La Nuova Padania" in an article which features a thirteen-minutes-long amateur video showing the arrival of the policemen and the Army, the arrest and, only after that, the beginning of the protest.

The way the events occurred is yet to be clarified through investigations, but there has already been unanimous condemnation by various political parties: namely, Turin has been described as a time-bomb about to explode in the general indifference of its administration; the aggression by the squatters has been deemed unacceptable, and there is suspicions of them covering up illegal activities in the district.

Mole Antonelliana, a symbol of the city of Turin
Mole Antonelliana, a symbol of the city of Turin

Perceived temperatures increase with discomfort, but this is not enough yet.

Another amateur video, again in Piedmont but this time recorded in the town of Pinerolo, shows a woman angrily shouting at some public officers that she's been fined despite having exhibited all the documents required. After having claimed that she wants to be free to go whenever she wants to, she then proceeds to remove the surgical mask she was wearing and throw it on the ground.

She even accuses the Government to pass off as deaths-by-coronavirus even deaths caused by other pathologies: this claim is the result of further confusion generated by the fact that not every country in Europe has been following the same procedure when counting their deads during since the coronavirus outbreak.

It shoud be noted that as early as the end of March 2020, in an interview by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, professor Carlo Signorelli, lecturer in Hygiene and Public Health at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, had explained that Italian authorities had chosen to notify as dead-by-coronavirus even those patients who, having died as a result of the coronavirus infection, suffered from other pathologies already existing and documented.

This explains why, by the end of March 2020, the region of Lombardy's death toll alone was higher than that of the whole People's Republic of China since last December: the newspaper "Corriere della Sera", on the website of its Milan edition, lists the official data supplied by Regione Lombardia: we can read that in Lombardy, since the outbreak of the epidemic, 7199 people have died after having being infected by the coronavirus; the website, on the other hand, shows statistics and graphs regarding the coronavirus health crisis and the death toll for the People's Republic of China, even now at the end of April 2020, is just slightly higher than 4600 victims. Germany, on the other hand, only considers those patients whose death has been directly caused by the coronavirus infection, and this is the reason their death count is so low instead.

"They want us down on our knees, like they did with Greece", concludes the woman in the video.

Perceived temperatures increase with discomfort, and for someone they're higher.

A nation-wide Telegram channel called "25 Aprile ORE 17:00 scendiamo in strada - chat nazionale", with at least twenty-thousand members divided in turn in regional sub-groups, is inciting non-violent protesting in the streets on April 25th, Liberation Day, at 5PM, and calls to use the Italian three-colored flag, or a white handkerchief wrapped around the wrist, to be recognizable by other members.

In the channel's description the administrators explain the need to demonstrate for constitutional freedom and against the Government's lockdown, which they see as a dictatorial initiative of mass psychological terrorism aimed at controlling the citizens and deprive them of their privacy, and request real experts to shed some light on the matter instead of the Government-assembled task force and the virologists and doctors that are regular guests of TV shows.

Giusppe Conte Premier of Italy
Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy

They also protest against the fact that current Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has not been elected by the people, therefore his leadership is illegitimate: this is, however, incorrect because in Italy the Prime Minister is not elected by the people through a democratic vote but is directly appointed by the President of the Republic. This distrust of politics is also evident in the choice of the group to avoid using any politic symbols, because they feel betrayed by the political parties that have endorsed unconstitutional decrees issued by the Government to eradicate a virus that, they write, has probably already disappeared.

Among the users in the group, many believe there is a connection between the development of the 5G technology generation and the coronavirus outbreak, with people all over the world getting sick because of the radiations caused by the 5G, and many others support USA President Donald Trump in his decision to withdraw funds from the WHO because of the Organization's praises for the Chinese Government's management of the emergency.

The fact that the protest, in the channel administrators' intentions, is going to be non-violet doesn't change much that it's going to be a blatant violation of the current norms enforced for the quarantine. In Italy, citizens are allowed to demonstrate in accordance with ways and terms provided for by the law, and notifications via Telegram channels just aren't one.

Author Angelo Colella is a professional translator fluent in Italian, English and French, you can reach him here.


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