House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nearly crossed paths with thousands of people protesting vaccine mandates in Italy this weekend.
Pelosi, who was in Rome for a meeting with foreign leaders, was attending Mass in the city at St. Patrick’s Church. Outside the church, chaos was erupting as thousands of Italians took to the streets over Italy’s new requirement for workers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in the form of a “green pass.”
Just minutes into the service, Pelosi and her husband were reportedly removed from the church by government officials concerned about her safety, according to a representative from Pelosi’s office.
At the heart of protesters’ complaints is the “green pass” mandate — required documentation that details whether a person has been fully vaccinated, tested negative or has recently recovered from the virus. Starting Oct. 15, any worker who doesn’t show a vaccine certificate to their employer will be suspended without pay for up to five days.
Italy’s prime minister condemns acts of violence
Protests that continued into the night on Saturday turned violent.
Images showed tear gas being deployed by police to scatter large crowds of people across Rome. Some officers are seen hitting demonstrators with batons and hauling away bloodied men and women.
At least 12 people were reportedly arrested during the violence.
Other videos and pictures of the protests show people using flags and other weapons to attack police officers.
The violence spread to other parts of the city, including the headquarters of the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL), one of Italy’s biggest trade unions. The group supports the health pass mandate, viewing it as a worker safety issue.
Rioters marched to the union’s offices, broke windows and managed to push their way into the union’s building. Once inside, they caused other damage, including smashing computers.
The union called it a “fascist assault” on the group.
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi condemned the weekend violence.
“The right to express one’s ideas can never degenerate into acts of aggression and intimidation,” his office said.
Draghi also visited the CGIL headquarters following the attack in solidarity with the union.
Draghi’s office said, “Trade unions are a fundamental defense of democracy and workers’ rights” and that any intimidation of them is unacceptable.