Some unknown groups had announced that they would disrupt the beginning of the Milan Expo, and they did. Using the so-called “black bloc” tactics, they assaulted the city center burning cars and smashing shop windows.
Few of them were arrested, because the police had been ordered to avoid a too direct approach and collateral damages; however, they were unable to reach the Stock Exchange, the European Union Delegation, the HQ of the economic newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, the La Scala Theater, the Cathedral or the Expo itself.
Their failure was mainly psychological and political, however. They were unable to force the police to use the heavy-handed tactics that backfired so spectacularly in the G8 summit held in Genoa. As a result, their actions were universally condemned, even by the most hardline members of the movement against Expo, which was ultimately undermined by their attack. The city reacted with a show of pride and dignity when dozens of volunteers showed up in the streets to repair the damage.
The portray of the protests in the media was damning. An aged resident was hailed as a hero after exposing the Italian flag from the window of his house, triggering a volley of eggs and other projectiles by the attackers. Another photo showed a female assailant wearing an expensive Rolex watch, and in another a fashionable girl is seen smiling next to a burned car: this allowed Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to label the attackers as “spoiled brats”. Another boy, after taking part to the assault, released an embarrassing interview after which he was punished by his parents, forced to a public apology, mocked and insulted in the social medias.
Finally the police, after showing restraint, is starting to round-up Italian and foreign suspects all over Italy.