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'We'll continue to fight': Thousands gather in Italian cities to protest incoming 'anti-rave' laws

  • Collectives took to the streets with sound systems in Turin, Bologna, Naples, Rome, Palermo and Florence.

In Italy, thousands of people took to the streets over the weekend to protest "anti-rave" legislation, which could be enshrined at the end of this month. Article 633 bis is a new law designed to prevent the occupation of an empty field or building to host raves or other types of entertainment. The new statute also allows the surveillance of groups who are suspected of holding these unauthorised events. Promoted on social media with the hashtag #smashrepression, protests took place on Saturday, December 17th, in Turin, Bologna, Naples, Rome, Palermo and Florence, as well as several cities in France. They were coordinated by French and Italian sound system crews, including CSOA Officina99, Nameless Sound System, Hardcore Heroes Pirate and Crazy Dub Salerno. Santano Viperillo, who runs events at Naples club Duel and was part of '90s rave collective United Tribes, was at the protest on Saturday. "It's important to take a stand against this legislation and make sure the voice of the rave community and all other underground music communities is heard loud and clear," he told Resident Advisor. "We want a return to normality that allows us to have a nightlife without fear of oppression." Robi Fog, DJ and founder of Looney Moon Records, was on the ground in Turin. At around 3 PM GMT, he said there were "around 2,000 people at the protest." By early evening, thousands more had congregated at Parco del Valentino. Turin's Radio Blackout was broadcasting live from the protest. A spokesperson who didn't want to be named said "a growing arsenal of laws means a gradual erosion of freedom. An attempt is being made to not only punish but also to erase identities and communities." They added: "[the legislation] is part of something much bigger and aimed at suppressing the most marginalised communities [...] This protest is about dancing together, about fighting together."

A draft version of the new law previously banned unauthorised gatherings of more than 50 people. This was slammed by activists for infringing on protest rights and the freedom of expression, and no longer forms part of the legislation. The law was triggered last month by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's new right-wing government after the authorities were ordered to shut down a Halloween rave in Modena. They seized sound system equipment valued at €150,000 and 14 people were placed under investigation by the prosecutor's office. Speaking to RA, Nicolò Bussolati, a lawyer representing eight of the 14 people, said he's reclaimed equipment valued at between £80-100,000 on behalf of his clients. He said trials will soon commence for those under investigation. Other sound system crew members are being represented by lawyer Elia de Caro, who told RA he's currently awaiting the result of his appeal to reclaim his clients' equipment. Bussolati, who joined the protest in Turin, said the new legislation will punish those occupying empty buildings to host parties with a maximum penalty of six years in prison, making it "a serious crime." He believes this type of legislation will generate a public impression that rave parties are a "big problem" for society. "We have had raves for 30 years but no one really cared until media attention was given." He added: "We'll continue to fight these repressive laws, ensure a fair trial for our clients and defend the right to party–even in unconventional ways–which we believe should not be (over) criminalised [...] alternative ways of expressing ourselves are beneficial to society. Repression will impoverish our cultures, leaving nothing but 'ghost towns.'" According to another anonymous member of the #smashrepression movement, more protests are planned for 2023. "Our network is growing–already there was around 50,000 people on the streets on Saturday," they told RA. "So we will let our government know that this isn't just about raves, but about repression of our rights. We know how we can continue to demonstrate. We're gonna be their nightmare." To help raise funds for the affected sound systems, UK free party crew Spiral Tribe is re-releasing the Forward The Revolution EP. All proceeds will go to legal aid group Le Fonds de Soutien Juridique des Sons (FSJS) and other organisations defending sound systems. Watch a video from the Naples protest, posted by local activist Adriano. We'll report more on this story as it unfolds.

Photos: Robi Fog, Niccolò Bussolati, Santano Viperillo Video: Adriano


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