Italian authorities announced today, March 2nd, that they had broken up a gang of criminals intending to make a violent protest to further the secession of the region of Veneto from Italy. Special operations police arrested 24 people in their sweep through Veneto and elsewhere across Italy.

italy veneto

According to media reports, among the arrested are two people who were involved in the 1997 St. Mark’s bell tower incident, the founder of the secession group Liga Veneta and leaders of the anti-elite “Pitchfork Protests” that surfaced in Italy in December of last year.

Police statement

The Italian justice ministry released a statement saying that the secessionist gang had built an armored vehicle to be driven into St. Mark’s Square in Venice. The plan was apparently to be a reprisal of the takeover of the square’s famous bell tower by a group of secessionists back in 1997. The police provided videos showing showed a large Caterpillar tractor that had armor plates welded to it and was apparently armed with a 12-mm cannon.

Media reports indicated that the secessionist group was going to bring the armored vehicle to the square the night before European Parliamentary elections in May, which are widely seen as a referendum on the austerity policies mandated by the EU.

The police statement also mentioned that the authorities had recovered numerous weapons in their raids against secessionist movements across the country, including in Lombardy and Piedmont as well as the island of Sardinia.

Veneto secessionist movement

The Veneto region, including the world-famous city of Venice, has been a successful industrial zone since the 1960s. Much of the industry is small- to medium-sized, family businesses that have been severely hurt by globalization and the economic crisis while their tax burden has also continued to increase. The vocalized ideology behind the secessionist movement is that the region’s money is essentially stolen by Rome in the form of taxes with precious little return.