Italy Backs Citizens Patrols, Despite Fascist Past

Antonella Cinelli and Roberto Bonzio, Reuters, June 14, 2009

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Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government, elected last year on a promise to crack down on crime and curb illegal immigration, has agreed with its Northern League allies a plan for [citizen] patrols to help police and soldiers on the streets.

The proposal, which still needs parliamentary approval, is opposed by Italy’s left-wing opposition and by civil rights groups, who fear it could lead to racial discrimination and violence.

{snip}

One volunteer group, the Italian National Guard, unveiled its proposal to participate in the patrols in Milan on Saturday, sporting beige uniforms and black military-style hats.

Judicial sources said that a prosecutor had opened an investigation into the group, which has links to the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) formed by former Mussolini supporters.

The sources said the prosecutor could present charges in the coming days of attempting to resurrect the fascist party.

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