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Police raid peace camps in Comiso

Dwight Burkhardt — July 1984

COMISO – In the early morning of May II, Corniso police raided all three of the peace camps (La Ragnetella, women’s camp, Vigna Verde, ecology farm, and IMAC international camp) near the cruise missile base at Comiso Sicily. In total, 23 people were detained of which nine were ultimately arrested, on suspicion of planning illegal activities against the base.

Of those arrested, three Sicilian men from Vigna Verde were released within 36 hours, three women from Ragnatella were held for five days, then deported, and three German men from IMAC were tried, convicted and given suspended fines for possession of weapons (knives exceeding three centimetres and a can of Mace). Two of the men left Italy; the third (the one with the Mace) was still in jail at last report. All other non-Italians of the 23 detainees were expelled from Italy.

The following day, May 12, police returned to the camps and applied “sigillo” (legal seal), fencing them with barbed wire. The camps re-opened five days later after appeals were lodged.

The raids are undoubtedly a reaction to a successful action carried out by women from Ragnetalla on April 20. By night, the women entered the base, painted peare and feminist symbols on the fifty-foot water tower and escaped without detecti,Qn. The next morning, roads around the base were closed as their handiwork was quickly painted over. The military denied the incident, at first, but the women had taken pictures of their work and distributed to groups around Italy. When the press began to publish the story, the military looked. increasingly foolish.