17 Jun 2009

Italy revives 'Blackshirt' vigilantes

The Italian National Guard is one of many vigilante groups that will be sanctioned to start anti-crime foot patrols once a controversial security bill has been passed.

italian vigilanteBut the group became the centre of a political storm when it emerged that their kit bears a striking resemblance to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's notorious Blackshirt volunteer militia. Prosecutors immediately opened an investigation into the group because of the similarity to the black and brown Fascist uniforms worn during the 1930's by sympathisers in Italy and Germany.

The new law, which is expected to pass easily in the Senate this week, allows vigilantes to alert police to public order offences or suspected criminals, but do not have the power of arrest. These groups have sprung up in several Italian cities, especially in the northern strongholds of the right wing, anti-immigrant Northern League.

More on Mail Online, including history of the Black Shirts

Also read The politics of fear return to Italy – Times Online