Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced today that Italy was going on lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown limits travel and bans public events. It also means trials have been suspended and family visits have stopped.
Since yesterday (when just parts of the country were on lockdown) imprisoned people across the country have been protesting these conditions, in addition to the problem of widespread overcrowding. Italian prisons have at least 10,000 too many people in their facilities. People who are jam-packed together like that are more vulnerable to public health emergencies.
As a result, over twenty jails and prisons so far have faced different levels of protesting. In some places, people are shouting and clanging objects on cell bars. In others, guards are being taken hostage and people are escaping (of about 50 escapes, half have been found). At least six imprisoned people have died. Mattresses and entire facilities have been lit on fire. People have made it to the rooftops where they hold banners asking for pardons.
Some people don’t agree with this style of protesting, which is really a kind of reactive violence, but it’s meant to make people uncomfortable. Calling attention to themselves in this way is valid.