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Pitchfork movement is peaceful, says leader

'We won't let thugs and subversives tarnish our name'

11 December, 19:50
Pitchfork movement is peaceful, says leader (see related) (ANSA) - Palermo, December 11 - Pitchfork (Forconi) protest leader Mariano Ferro on Wednesday strongly denied his movement stands for violence or criminal behavior of any kind, but rather is being exploited by assorted rabble rousers and extreme right-wingers.

"The real Pitchfork members are in Sicily, where the protest is peaceful. Unfortunately our movement is being associated with hooligans and subversives. We have nothing to do with them and we vehemently dissociate ourselves from the violence occurring in other parts of our country," Ferro told ANSA.

His comments came on the third day of nationwide protests, after supporters of Dutch club Ajax clashed with protesters when around 20 fans got off a bus that had been held up by the protesters and started to insult them.

"We originally gathered under the December 9 Coordinating Committee. We are a movement of farmers and truckers who have been calling for years for government intervention against the social hardships wrought by the recession," he said.

"But now the situation has degenerated. The Pitchfork Movement reject all attempts to tarnish its name. Unfortunately we have been infiltrated by the subversive fringes, beginning with (the extreme-right-wing movement) Forza Nuova". Anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Beppe Grillo on Tuesday encouraged police to refrain from protecting politicians after officers in riot gear at Pitchfork protests doffed helmets in several separate episodes, which was widely interpreted as a sign of solidarity with demonstrators.

"We will not pass for thugs and criminals, they exist but they are not us. We just want the government to listen to what we have to say about the problems afflicting farmers, artisans and small entrepreneurs," Ferro said.